Renault developing ‘magic’ engine mode for 2018
Renault is developing a ‘magic’ engine mode as it looks to rival the qualifying pace of Mercedes and Ferrari in next year’s Formula 1 world championship.
The French manufacturer has made strides forward with its current power unit but still trails the class-leading Mercedes in qualifying trim, which gives drivers more power courtesy of a specific qualifying mode.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner thinks the lack of a similar engine mode in the Renault is making all the difference in qualifying.
Horner said: “The problem with qualifying is we don’t have the high power modes that our competitors have. I am sure there is close to half a second in that.
“We could see in qualifying (in Malaysia), there wasn’t a single corner where our car was slower than our opponents.”
Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul has confirmed that the qualifying issue is being addressed by staff at his company’s Viry-Chatillon base.
“We are not doing any other steps than trying to do the best we can for having a competitive engine next year, but not just competitive, because we believe that the engine is already competitive,” he said.
“It is certainly very competitive on a Sunday, but there is clearly a bit missing on Saturday in qualifying.
“We don’t have that sort of ‘magic’ qualifying mode, but we are working hard on it.
“The performance of the engine will improve very sensitively for next year, not just for qualifying, but also for the race, which makes me believe that the engine will be extremely competitive.”
While teams are chasing more performance for the Saturdays, Abiteboul says his actual bigger concern is improving reliability.
“The focus has to be reliability,” he said. “We’ve lost a lot of points this season because of lack of reliability of the whole package, which to me is directly related to the fact that the team is changing very quickly.
“We are growing, we are recruiting lots of people. When you do that, it is typically reliability that is impacted.
“That will be the first thing to fix for the short-term future.”
Max Verstappen said “it is really important to get something like that”, highlighting that if his Red Bull had been more competitive in qualifying in Malaysia he would not have needed to pass Lewis Hamilton for the lead during the race.