Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul has challenged his team to get within half a second of the front-runners by the end of this season.
Having only completed its takeover of Lotus in the winter ahead of the 2016 season, Renault spent much of that year rebuilding. Last season saw a clear step forward as the team showed an impressive development rate, and this year it is emerging as the most consistent team behind the top three of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.
“The target is to reduce the gap,” Abiteboul told AutosportME.com. “If we’ve been looking at what happened last season, I think we still struggled to come up with a car which was immediately competitive in accordance with our view and our terms. But then…we have the capacity to outperform all teams, including the top teams for a number of reasons. That’s clearly what happened last year.
“Last year we started started the season an average of two seconds off the pace from the top teams, and we finished the season one second from the top teams. It means that they moved, but we moved faster than them and we moved by one second faster than they develop.
“So I think that obviously we’re starting the season more or less between one and one a half seconds from the top teams, I hope that we can do the same as last year, and my target is to finish the season around half a second from the top teams. That will be halving – two seconds, one second, half a second, that’s the target that we set to ourselves for the end of the season.”
In Renault’s Spanish Grand Prix preview, Abiteboul also confirmed the team will have a fuel upgrade this weekend in an attempt to extract more performance from its power unit.
“Azerbaijan delivered our best result to date since returning to the sport in 2016. We appreciate it took special circumstances, but it does not take anything away from the fact we are now in a position to capitalize on any opportunities. Our progress is clearly illustrated in the data in a number of ways; for example our gap to pole has halved from last year.
“The start of the European season now needs to see a consolidation of that performance. We will be helped in Spain by a step on the engine side with new fuel and some aero tweaks to reflect the characteristics of the track. We hope this to be a move forward, but we also recognize that many other teams will bring upgrade packages too and Barcelona is well known to everyone.”