Renault has played down the prospect of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix being its best chance yet of its teams beating the front-running Mercedes team.
Renault-engined Red Bull emerged as the clear second-fastest team during the recent Spanish GP, and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso reckons Monaco will be the best opportunity yet for Red Bull to fight Mercedes. But Renault’s head of track operations, Remi Taffin, says he expects Mercedes will still be clear frontrunners.
“Just before we came to Spain people were saying Barcelona is a chassis track and less about performance of the engine, but it’s still the same gap to Mercedes,” Taffin said. “If you look two or three years backwards, Mercedes has done two pole positions in Monaco, so we must admit Monaco is a good track for them.
“I don’t think it’s going to change anything, and to be fair we should not rely on whether it’s Monaco, Montreal or Monza, we just have to be better. If we do pole in Monaco, it won’t be a measure of where we are. Just because it’s a specific track does not mean there will be a big change in the rankings.”
DIFFERENT ENGINE DEMANDS
Taffin said Monte Carlo’s unique layout would naturally close up the field, and place less emphasis on energy recovery thanks to its short straights.
“The main challenge will be exploring some new areas in the engine,” Taffin noted. “We’re going to be running outside the normal scope – low revs and stuff like that. This will affect driveability and that will be challenging because driveability will be key – we need to make sure the driver is trusting his car managing the torque.
“Energy recovery is not going to be a problem because full throttle is only going to be about 30 seconds [per lap]. There’s not going to be problems releasing energy from the batteries, there’s not going to be any ‘clipping’ of KERS, we won’t have any fuel limitation because it’s only a 250km race, so there’s not going to be any lifting off.
“Fuel is going to be free, energy’s going to be free, qualifying’s going to be easy on that side, energy management is going to be put aside, and we will have to concentrate on the actual V6 turbo for maybe once in the year.”
Taffin added that Renault is expecting a horsepower boost from a new fuel, which is part of its latest package of updates.
“We have yet more software upgrades to introduce following a successful test in Barcelona, which further improved the driveability and reliability of the systems,” he said. “Likewise we have been working with our partner, Total, to trial a new fuel that should deliver in the region of 10hp more than before – a significant increase.”