Renault is concerned by the size of the gains Ferrari has made with its power unit this season as Haas starts to close in on fourth in the constructors’ championship, admits chassis technical director Nick Chester.
Haas failed to pick up significant points at the start of the season, but outscored Renault by 21 points over the run of five races in six weeks before the summer break. With Renault’s advantage in the standings now just 16 points, a further Ferrari power unit upgrade introduced in Hungary provided Haas and Sauber with another major step forward in performance, and Chester says the size of the gains are eye-catching.
“They definitely made a big step Canada-time, and I’d say yeah, we are a bit surprised,” Chester said. “They’ve got a strong engine anyway, but it’s really quite strong now. The performance is right up there.
“It does give us a concern. We’re obviously in a pretty tight fight, so we’ve brought stuff all the way up to the shutdown. We’re going to carry on bringing some aero developments after the shutdown, and it could be tight all year.
“We’ve got to work pretty hard, and even as we switch over to the 2019 car, anything that we can find in developing that that we can put back on this car, we’ll try and do.”
Chester says there is no set date for Renault to stop work on the current car, but with new aerodynamic regulations coming into effect in 2019 the majority of development time is spent on next year.
“A lot of the work is moving over to ’19 now anyway, and it just depends what we find,” he said. “Probably from now on, there will be a few more updates heading up to around Sochi or Suzuka time, and then after that, anything will probably be smaller, smaller parts that can come out of the wind tunnel program that comes in ’19. We know we’re going to have to keep going all year.
“We know we can’t, really [switch off developments]. We’re going to have to develop. We’ve already got things in the pipeline that are going to hit after shutdown. Maybe when we get to sort of race 15, race 16, we can review it.
“But by then, most things will be in the process anyway for the end of the year. But it’s just too tight. There’s only  points in it. An Austria result, and you’ve wiped that out. So we’ve got to keep going and just keep pushing and getting the pace on the car.”