Renault-powered teams are considering using four engines per driver instead of just three in 2018. The rules have changed over the winter, meaning drivers will be penalised if they use more than three power units across the long 21-race season.
But Auto Motor und Sport reports that Renault may advise its teams to plan to use four engines instead, thereby voluntarily taking a penalty at some point. "Because the engine life is longer, it slows down the development," said boss Cyril Abiteboul.
What he means is that, in theory, a driver will use the same engine for 7 races until it is changed. But by using four engines, Renault can introduce more developments. "The balance between reliability and development for more power is incredibly hard to find," Abiteboul added.
Renault customer Red Bull sounds keen on Renault's four-engine plan. "If you strategically plan the penalties, you will not lose so much," said Dr Helmut Marko. "We started from the back in Monza last year and finished fourth," he added. Designer Adrian Newey agrees: "If you're a racer, you'd plan with four engines. Because the benefits are greater than the disadvantages."
And McLaren boss Eric Boullier said: "We will do what is best for us. First of all we will see where we are and then decide, but the question of three or four engines is definitely up for debate."
It seems that Mercedes and Ferrari will not adopt the same four-engine approach. "A penalty means you lose a race and that can cost you the title," said engine boss Andy Cowell. (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing