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Renault expects engine penalties later in the F1 season

Renault fears that some of its Formula 1 drivers are on course to face grid penalties later this year because of early season reliability niggles.

Although the French car manufacturer has made good progress with its power unit since a troubled pre-season testing programme, the early woes are not without consequence.

Renault's engine chief Rob White says that the rapid rate of early developments means its drivers are all at different development stages with the components that make up the power unit.

And the state of affairs means that, with just one quarter of the season gone, a number of its drivers could get grid penalties later this season for running through more than the maximum five power units allowed.

"As each race goes on the situation team by team and driver by driver becomes more and more individual," explained White.

"One of the things we have to throw into the mix is the optimisation of the power units that are deployed in each car.

"Clearly four races in, we're a quarter of the way through the season, and we're ahead of schedule because we've introduced more power units than we should have done in that period. That's something that has to be taken into account.

"Perhaps later on for some of our drivers that will result in a penalty. But for most of them we're still in a possibly manageable situation."

Analysis of the engine situation shows that Renault looks most at risk of breaking the maximum five limit with its control electronics systems.

Sebastian Vettel and Kamui Kobayashi have already used four so far this season, meaning they just have one new one left for the rest of the campaign.

It is possible though that some of the older units may still be able to be brought back in to use, even if they are not of the latest specification.

White added: "Although we've introduced more pieces than we probably should have done, not all the parts we have replaced are completely out of service.

"There is still potential performance and life in some of those systems and sub systems. Those things will live to fight another day."

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