Renault has launched its 2020 Formula 1 season at an event in Paris without its new car.
Instead the marque presented both Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon to the world, along with senior management, complemented by ‘sneak peak’ renders of the R.S.20.
Speculation swirled last week that the new car had been delayed, though team boss Cyril Abiteboul moved to hose down such claims.
“If anything we are much more on schedule than we were last year,” he said.
“You may remember that last year we invited you guys to come to Enstone and actually I mentioned how late we were, and that was a fact.
“Probably it was also something that impacted reliability at the start because, when you are late, you are reacting and it is all about trying to catch a trains that’s gone anyway.
“So this year we are ahead of schedule.”
Instead, Abiteboul claimed the decision to launch without the car was borne out of the desire to not present something’fake’.
The development and secrecy of Formula 1 means teams will use every available moment to develop their new car, while trying to conceal any gains from rivals.
In many instances that results in the presentation of a car which bares only a passing resemblance to that which ultimately begins pre-season testing, with the launch event little more than a livery reveal.
“No one is capable of presenting a (representative) car,” Abiteboul reasoned.
“If your team is on schedule, you don’t have a car waiting here for a couple of hours or days. Your car is built and going straight to Barcelona. That is an optimised schedule.
“So on that basis, our only option was to have a fake car, a show car altered to look like this year’s car, but that is a waste of money and the results will be frankly below optimal.
“People will always interpret based on that. So rather than that, no car. For anyone interested in the car, look at the pictures next week.”
The renders produced by the team offer scant clues into the new machine, though do suggest it will have its colors reversed over 2019 with black rather than yellow atop the monocoque.
Images of the engine cover suggest that too has changed colour, though how much can be read into the images with regards to the livery is unclear.
Renault will head to Spain next week for pre-season testing, the opening three-day test beginning on February 19.