Renault feels it's become 'collateral damage' in F1 title race

Renault thinks it has become "collateral damage" in a Formula 1 engine arms race between Mercedes and Ferrari

Renault feels it's become 'collateral damage' in F1 title race

The 2018 season began strongly for Renault and it appeared to have established itself as the leading team behind the top three outfits before the summer break.

But its recent form has fallen away, and at the Japanese Grand Prix last weekend Nico Hulkenberg said his team was no longer quick enough to fight its main rivals.

Its managing director Cyril Abiteboul says several factors have contributed to Renault's plight - but chief among them is that engine gains from the title contenders have filtered down to their customers, while his squad elected to stick with an older specification power unit.

"We see that we are in a very tight midfield with most of the cars around us benefiting and tracking the development of the top teams Mercedes and Ferrari - who really are in an arms race for the championship," Abiteboul told Autosport.

"In my opinion, we are almost collateral damage.

"We are seeing the collateral consequence and collateral effect of Ferrari having had at some point an upper hand on Mercedes, and then a very strong rate of development by Mercedes to catch up again.

"Under the current regulations, this is having a positive impact on all of the other [customer] teams, so Force India, Haas and Sauber have gained from that fight between the two.

"We are in isolation. It is not an issue because we are a manufacturer, we have full accountability and full responsibility, but we need to get everything to progress."

Abiteboul believes the engine situation has disguised progress his team has made with its chassis, even if he suspects Renault may need to check how well some updates have worked.

"The chassis is progressing, but not at a rate that can compensate for the rate of development of the top teams or for the lack of improvement of the engine, because the spec of the engine has not really changed since Montreal," he said.

"But in addition to that, the car may not be at its maximum potential because we have had a lot of evolutions.

"We may need to revisit some of them, and maybe we have some evolutions that are not working the way we want, so it is really hard to give you a definitive conclusion.

"But it is fair to say that we are not really in a happy place at the moment."

Abiteboul admitted Renault has already concluded it needs to be more aggressive with 2019 engine development and make its Enstone factory work more effectively.

"We see that we cannot afford not to push massively on the engine development and we are currently looking at the targets for next year, and those targets will be extremely aggressive," he said.

"On the chassis side we need to accept that it is a long term process and Enstone has grown very rapidly.

"But it is not just about the size, it is about the way that people are interacting between each other, and Marcin [Budkowski] is now fully in command in Enstone.

"He is driving the transformation plan for Enstone, which is not just a growth plan.

"I think we had up until now too much focus on growth: it is not just about growth, it is about efficiency and that will be the focus of Marcin for next year."

shares
comments
Red Bull-Honda Formula 1 success would be 'massive' in Japan

Previous article

Red Bull-Honda Formula 1 success would be 'massive' in Japan

Next article

Formula 1 abandons idea of points system change for 2019

Formula 1 abandons idea of points system change for 2019
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Renault F1 Team
Author Jonathan Noble
Why Tsunoda can become Japan’s greatest F1 talent Plus

Why Tsunoda can become Japan’s greatest F1 talent

While Japan's fever for motor racing is well-documented, the country has yet to produce a Formula 1 superstar – but that could be about to change, says BEN EDWARDS

Why the demise of F1's hypocritical spending habit is cause for celebration Plus

Why the demise of F1's hypocritical spending habit is cause for celebration

For too long, F1's richest teams have justified being able to spend as much as they want because that's the way they've always conducted their business. STUART CODLING says that's no reason not to kick a bad habit

Formula 1
Apr 14, 2021
The double whammy that is defining Vettel’s F1 fate Plus

The double whammy that is defining Vettel’s F1 fate

It's been a tough start to Sebastian Vettel's Aston Martin F1 career, with a lack of pre-season testing mileage followed by an incident-packed Bahrain GP. But two key underlying factors mean a turnaround is not guaranteed

Formula 1
Apr 14, 2021
The diva that stole a march on F1’s wide-bodied opposition Plus

The diva that stole a march on F1’s wide-bodied opposition

In 2017 new F1 technical regulations were supposed to add drama - and peg Mercedes back. STUART CODLING looks at the car which, while troubled, set the stage for the wide-bodied Formula 1 era

Formula 1
Apr 13, 2021
The themes to watch in F1’s Imola return Plus

The themes to watch in F1’s Imola return

Three weeks is a long time in Formula 1, but in the reshaped start to the 2021 season the teams head to Imola to pick things up after the frenetic Bahrain opener. Here's what to look out for and the developments to follow at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Formula 1
Apr 13, 2021
The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola Plus

The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola

After a pandemic-hit winter of seat-swapping, F1 kicked off its season with several new faces in town, other drivers adapting to new environments, and one making a much-anticipated comeback. BEN ANDERSON looks at who made the most of their opportunity and who needs to try harder…

Formula 1
Apr 12, 2021
The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture Plus

The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture

Aston Martin’s only previous foray into Formula 1 in the late 1950s was a short-lived and unsuccessful affair. But it could have been so different, says NIGEL ROEBUCK

Formula 1
Apr 10, 2021
Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of car-racing titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace Plus

Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of car-racing titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace

Max Verstappen’s star quality in Formula 1 is clear. Now equipped with a Red Bull car that is, right now, the world title favourite and the experience to support his talent, could 2021 be the Dutchman’s year to topple the dominant force of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes?

Formula 1
Apr 9, 2021