Renault says its 2017 Formula 1 engine has exceeded expectations
|By Jonathan Noble||Monday, March 13th 2017, 10:50 GMT|
Renault says its new Formula 1 engine has exceeded performance targets, despite its pre-season testing programme being impacted by reliability troubles.
The French manufacturer has introduced an all-new concept for 2017 in a bid to make the steps it needs to cut its deficit to rival engine makes Mercedes and Ferrari.
Although Renault endured some frustrations with reliability during the Barcelona test - revolving around its ERS, while its teams were also forced to run it in conservative engine modes - there is some optimism about the potential it has for 2017.
"I think we are on target, and even maybe exceeding that target, subject to reliability," Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul told Autosport.
"We came into this with a whole new engine architecture, not just in terms of [combustion engine] but also ERS.
"That means quite a great challenge, particularly in terms of reliability, and there is no surprise.
"We were expecting to encounter some difficulties - we had those difficulties that materialised.
"But the good news is that we are not doing that for nothing, meaning that the performance is there when we are try to extract it.
"We were not doing that frequently, because we were really managing distance and life of the engine parts, which are still critical conditions.
"But we have seen the performance that we wanted to get is definitely there."
Renault is now evaluating the choice of specification for the Australian Grand Prix, because it has to carefully balance out power against reliability.
"Anything could happen in Melbourne, we are doing everything we can to make sure that only good things happen in Melbourne," he said.
"We believe we have a situation that is roughly under control, but these power units are so complex to control that we still have a number of decisions to make before Melbourne that will have an impact on not only the finishing order but whether we get to the finish line in Melbourne or not.
"We are really on a critical path and it is really important to stay focused and not take anything for granted."
Renault's form will be critical to Red Bull's hopes of mounting a championship challenge this year, and Abiteboul confidently declared the customer team will "clearly be in a position to fight for the championship" with the French engine.