Renault is close to deciding to abandon development of its 2016 car, according to the Danish newspaper BT. It follows a mainly uncompetitive start to the season for the Enstone team, following the eleventh hour takeover of Lotus.
"At the moment there will be small, aerodynamic improvements," said Renault official Cyril Abiteboul in Shanghai, "and especially for Spain we have a major update. But right now we are deciding about the car with respect to 2016 and 2017," added the Frenchman. "We are yet to decide how much we will improve in 2016, but the improvements that do come must in all cases help also for 2017."
Renault, yet to score a single point this year, always acknowledged that 2016 would be difficult, given the lateness of the decision to switch from Mercedes power and in view of the sweeping rule changes for 2017. "To be honest," said Abiteboul, "within the team, there are different opinions about this, because it also makes sense to develop the current car."
"It could improve our performance, therefore giving us a better finishing position in the championship this year," he added, probably referring to the sport's income-distribution system. "But there are big changes in the aerodynamic regulations in 2017 and so we need to determine when we decide to focus on the new car. It is a decision we have to take within the next two weeks, and it is a decision that could mean that more or less we stop developing the 2016 car," Abiteboul said.
The 'power unit', however, is an entirely different matter, with Abiteboul saying Renault is "fighting like mad" to develop it. "No matter what we do with the car, we must have a more competitive engine," he said, amid reports a major upgrade is coming for Canada in June. "I cannot put a precise figure on the extra horse power that comes from the new engine, but we think the gap that we currently have to Mercedes will be halved." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing