Renault’s engine efforts are now for 2018

Nico Hulkenberg

Renault’s engine development program has moved on to fixing reliability problems for 2018 according to managing director Cyril Abiteboul.

Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg and Brendon Hartley all suffered engine problems in the Mexican Grand Prix, prompting Abiteboul to admit that it was too aggressive for the high-altitude conditions.

Renault has been trialling a revised engine featuring 2018 development parts since the United States Grand Prix, two races ago, and the upgrade is believed to be worth around two tenths depending on the track.

“We know the update is working, there is no doubt about that but it’s an update that is only bringing a portion of what we want to bring over the winter and 2018 has to be the focus now,” Abiteboul told Autosport.

The French manufacturer has failed to get on par with Ferrari and Mercedes in terms of power this season, but Abiteboul is hopeful the gap can be bridged over the winter.

“The picture hasn’t changed,” said Abiteboul, after Max Verstappen took victory in the Renault-powered Red Bull in Mexico.

“On Saturday, we still have a substantial gap to the leaders but in the race, we’re getting very close.

“The target for the winter is to close that gap for Sunday and to understand what we can do in terms of qualifying mode.”

Following its second double retirement of the season in Mexico, Abiteboul conceded Renault’s goal of achieving fifth in the constructors’ championship may be out of reach.

Renault is seventh in the constructors’ championship, five points shy of sixth-placed Scuderia Toro Rosso, with Williams a further 23 clear ahead of the final two races of the season.

“We need to bounce back,” said Abiteboul. “We have two races to go.

“Our championship position is not helped by what has happened (in Mexico) but clearly it’s going to be extremely difficult to fight for fifth in the championship.

“We need to keep the morale high and also look ahead.

“But we can’t ignore what happened this weekend because we need to understand and take measures.”

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