Remi Taffin admits much of Renault’s power unit development programme is geared towards 2017, saying it “has to be humble” for the upcoming season.
Since the switch to the 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged engines in 2014, Renault has been trailing Mercedes in terms of horsepower and reliability. The French manufacturer was even leapfrogged by a resurgent Ferrari last year and could slip further down the order if Honda does manage to recover from their annus horribilis.
Now back as a fully-fledged Formula One team, Renault is committed to making a massive investment in order to return to the front. However, the constructor also quickly moved to downplay any grand expectations at the moment.
Asked whether Renault had a specific road map to improve its power unit, Taffin, who serves as engine technical director in the new organisation chart, replied:
“There is a stepped programme but the programme is made for 2017. Obviously, we’re racing every other weekend in ’16, so if we can put some more performance, we will. But it will still be driven by the fact that ‘is it a good thing for ’17?’ – ‘Yes’ – ‘So we do it’.
“For 2016, we have to be humble. We want to finish races. We want to be quicker and quicker. We’ll see how we develop that strategy. But it will be based on how we get to next year.”
Although teams have yet to formally agree on next year’s technical rule changes, Taffin is confident these will not have too much of an impact on his department’s agenda.
“There are still some discussions around the chassis regulations, but I think we’re more or less clear on engine regulations that they will be stable for a few years.
“It’s definitely important to have a bit of stability because we’ve been investing a lot into [these power units].”
Current V6 turbos are set to stay in F1 until at least 2020 in exchange for engine suppliers lowering the cost of customer power units.