B is now Renault was always on schedule. 9th place in the comeback 2016,, 6th place a year later and 4th place in the preseason. The score was doubled each time. The only downer. The gap to the front remained shockingly large at 1.5 seconds.
For the fourth season, the French national racing team had set itself even more ambitious goals. “We wanted to be in fourth place with a good gap to the midfield, further increase the number of points and reduce the gap to the top.” The reality is different. Renault is only in 8th place after five races and the gap to Mercedes is as big as ever.
'Unacceptable', is how team boss Cyril Abiteboul calls the situation. Even so, no heads roll in Enstone and Viry-Chatillon. It would be the wrong signal, said the boss of the 1,250-strong team. They delivered the promised power gain and quickly reacted to problems that caused three failures and cost many World Cup points.
Found 54 hp over the winter
Abiteboul acknowledges that the engine department has found 40 kilowatts (54 hp) over the winter. The goal for the whole season was 50 kW (68 hp), which should still be achieved in the course of the season. “In the race we have the same performance as Mercedes and Ferrari. Only in qualification mode is Ferrari still superior to us. 'Compared to 2016, this is a real quantum leap, according to Abiteboul.
However, Renault's gain in performance also came at the expense of reliability. There were problems with the MGU-K, and when a connecting rod broke in Nico Hülkenberg's V6 turbo at the Bahrain GP, the alarm bells rang in the engine kitchen at Viry-Chatillon. “We had to drastically reduce our performance for two races to get on theTo be on the safe side, 'reveals Abiteboul.
Then the little miracle:' In just five weeks, the engineers understood the problem, designed new parts, tested them on the test benches in order to get them in time for four cars in Barcelona to finish. Before that I have to take my hat off. ”
At the Spanish GP, Renault again put on 50 percent of the voluntarily withdrawn performance. The engineers wanted to use the data to determine whether the changes were successful. Since Monte Carlo, Renault has been able to access the same performance as at the beginning of the season. For the eleventh race of the season (Budapest), but perhaps already the ninth (Silverstone), Abiteboul promises the last 10 kilowatt step as planned before the season.
Enstone has grown too fast
Abiteboul is happy with his engine people again, even if the technology epidemic has thrown the team back by three races. Now the team boss expects a clear signal from his chassis department. 'If we are able to achieve our goals with the engine, we should also do the same with the chassis.'
However, the problems are somewhat different. The development steps do not come to the car fast enough. “We are not efficient enough. It takes too long for aerodynamic upgrades to come into production via the design department. ”
Abiteboul attributes this to the fact that the force in Enstone has grown too quickly. “We have grown there from 450 to 750 people in the last three years. Unfortunately, the organization has not grown accordingly. The work processes and work ethic have stopped at 450 people. ”
That is why Renault has redistributed the tasks in Enstone between the bosses Marcin Budkowski, Nick Chester, Matthew Harman and Rob White. Clear objective: “We need more downforce, even if we have to sacrifice air resistance for it. And we have to react better to Pirelli's new tires. ”
Deadline in Le Castellet is up
Renault's clean-up work should be up for the French GP in Le Castellet. “It is a coincidence that this deadline falls on our home Grand Prix. If we were finished by Montreal, that would be our new start, ”says Abiteboul.
The engineers have a three-point plan on their desks for the next four weeks. The engine power gained must be steadily brought onto the road. The next aerodynamic upgrade must deliver significantly more downforce. In addition, various mechanical projects that have been stuck in a production bottleneck so far should be ready for use by the French GP.
Abiteboul demands: “Then we have to be able to get clearly to fourth place and the time gap to third noticeably. ”The 41-year-old Frenchman admits that the new top management wants to see results for the money invested in Paris. “But it was no different under Carlos Ghosn. If we deliver the results we are looking for, then Formula 1 will be worthwhile for Renault. ”
Postscript:“ If we were to invest as much as Mercedes, the calculation would no longer be correct for us. ”Therefore the Renault team boss expects a clear sign from the FIA and Liberty for 2021. Then you should be able to win races and titles with an effort like Renault.