Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul has responded to Max Verstappen's claims that the 'spec C' Renault engine is unable to perform at high altitudes. Red Bull will take grid penalties after it switched back to the 'Spec B' engine in Sochi following running with the updated version in Singapore.
Speaking during the team bosses press conference on Friday afternoon, Abiteboul says that all engines underperform at a high altitude and has suggested that the Dutchman should “focus on his car”.
“I think that any engine performs not as good in a high altitude,” he said. “I guess the power increase we have seen would have been equal in a track like Mexico. So no I don’t agree with those comments and in general I think Max should focus on the car.”
Abiteboul explained that the change back to the older version of the engine had been planned in advance after issues arose early on during the Singapore weekend with both Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen's car.
“We had a drive-ability issue in Singapore in FP1 and into the weekend, and to a far less extent in qualifying," he said. "But I think that we have a very demanding user in the person of Max. Not very quiet, also. But I think the team has done a great job in order to provide Max what was needed in order to have a good weekend in Singapore, very clear.”
"The C-spec as we call it is a good step,” Abiteboul added. “I think it’s a step that is a clear step in power that can also be for a certain number of limitations and that was part of the plan to introduce at a later stage a B-spec. It’s a bit unusual in terms of pattern but it’s a plan we agreed specifically on the request of Red Bull."
Renault confirmed prior to Singapore that its new engine would not be as reliable as 'spec B', although it would produce more power. Abiteboul conceded that Red Bull wouldn't have made it to the end of the season running with the updated engine.
“We do have durability concerns and therefore it was clear the engine introduced for Max would not have been able to do all the races so it was decided obviously to go to a different spec. But again that’s going back to the plan I was mentioning before with Red Bull engineering department and not driving department.”