Renault still confident of halving deficit to Mercedes

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Renault Sport F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul remains confident the French manufacturer can reduce its power unit deficit to Mercedes by half for the opening race in Australia.

While nowhere near last year’s dismal pre-season testing, Renault’s 2015 opening session in Jerez had been a tentative affair, with a few reliability niggles hampering the progress of its partner teams. The French power unit supplier enjoyed a much steadier second test in Barcelona last week as both Red Bull and Toro Rosso could complete several race simulations and rack up over 400 laps each.

“Our main objective in Barcelona, which was outlined and shared with our partners, was to accumulate as many kilometres as possible in order to continue improving reliability,” said Abiteboul. “Without a single major issue for either team it’s an area that we’re completely satisfied with.

“Equally, the test validated a certain number of measures implemented since Jerez, which have proven conclusive. On a human level it’s also been satisfying to see our technical staff working ever more closely with our partner teams. The results have been very positive."

While Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo topped the timesheets in the Renault-powered RB11 last Friday, Abiteboul refused to read too much into lap times since pace was not a top priority for Renault in Barcelona.

“Regarding performance, of course it’s still a bit early to make a proper judgement as it’s always relative and we don’t know what the competition is doing. On our side, we didn’t spend the test chasing lap times. Such aggressive and uncompromising development programmes, both in terms of chassis and the Power Unit, as well as new parts arriving at the last minute, also make it difficult to draw conclusions.

“Saying that, we’re still confident of achieving our target: reducing our Power Unit deficit to Mercedes by half for the first grand prix. Our reinforced partnership with Red Bull is also moving in the right direction, and the overall situation looks encouraging.”

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