Cyril Abiteboul reveals that new engine will be able to take on Mercedes but customers need to be patient
While Renault prepares for its second season as a constructor, following a disappointing, but not wholly unexpected debut season, the French manufacturer's engine division is building an all-new power unit.
While giving little away, Renault F1 MD Cyril Abiteboul reveals that the company will be taking an aggressive approach with its new unit while at the same time opting for a conservative introduction programme.
Indeed, the unit that appears in Australia will be superseded by a second phase unit come Spain, as the French manufacturer, which first introduced the turbocharger to F1, tries new technology not seen in F1 before.
"I prefer to be conservative in the expectation for the first initial running of the engine at the start of the season," Abiteboul told Motorsport.com.
"It is an engine that offers the potential to cope with an awful lot of development," he continued. "We have lot of ideas of concepts in the pipelines, most of them, as far as I am aware, have not been seen at the track.
"Clearly I am not going to disclose anything, but we are super excited by the level of innovation that this new platform offers. So it is a choice that we are not making for the start of the season but we are definitely making for the long term."
"We have had long discussions about that because at the point in time that everything is changing on the rest of the car, we could have taken a more conservative approach in trying to freeze what we have and focus on the chassis," he admits. "But we have not gone for that. We have gone for a very aggressive option, which is that there is no time.
"If we want to be where we would like to be for 2018 or 2020, which is the next phase, when we want to target the top teams, we cannot afford to delay anything. So we need to accept to take risk. We will be focusing on reliability with that new concept of engine, which will be a new concept I can confirm that.
"It means that it may not be a big jump in terms of performance, simply for the reason that we want to make sure to introduce this concept that it is reliable and that will be the perfect platform to develop the performance for the next three to four years."
However, the Frenchman poured cold water on Red Bull's claim that with just a 3% increase in power it will be abler to challenge Mercedes next year.
"I don't know how Red Bull is capable of projecting themselves next year," he said. "When I look how fast or how quickly the car is changing in our wind tunnel, I am sure it is the same for all teams. So it is very difficult to think what will be the pecking order.
"It is a very exciting time for everybody in F1," he continued. "Clearly this season if they had been within 3 percent that for sure maybe would have been better, but I am not sure that would have been enough to fight for the championship. We know where they want to be. We are committed to having the best engine in the grid. Not just within 1 percent but to have the best. And as I said, we think we have a number of ideas of technological concepts that can allow us to be better than Mercedes in the future."