Renault to start 2018 F1 season in compromised spec for reliability

Renault will not unleash the full potential of its Formula 1 engine for the 2018 season's early grands prix because it wants to take a zero risk approach to reliability

Renault to start 2018 F1 season in compromised spec for reliability

With Renault well aware that the three-engine limit means any early season niggles could prove costly later in the campaign, it is taking a more conservative approach to its planning for 2018 after last year's reliability problems.

The focus for all its teams will be on ensuring reliability for its Melbourne-spec, before performance upgrades come with the second and third engines on each car.

"We have decided voluntarily to make some compromises for engine number one in order to make sure that we have got the right platform," Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul told Autosport.

"If you come to the first race and you start to have reliability problems, then that is not just that race - it compromises the whole season. You cannot afford to do that.

"It is about setting the right baseline, having the right platform and building a plan for the season - trying in particular to synchronise development at the factory with the introduction of new engines because we are very limited.

"The fewer engines you have the more rigid you need to be in the implementation of performance. So the focus is very much on reliability."

Abiteboul insisted reliability work on the dyno had been encouraging, but warned some components still had to be signed off in pre-season testing.

"We have covered 11 times the mileage on the dyno that we had covered at the same point last year - and we are aiming to have 70000km on the dyno by race one - which is huge," he said. "It is something that we have never done since the introduction of the V6.

"But when we will be on track, we will need to sign off a number of things and this is particularly the plan for T9 [test one] - to make sure that there is no disconnect between track and dyno.

"So don't look at the lap time in T9 because everything will be massively tuned down for obvious reasons, but T10 [test two] we want to run in a more representative mode."

He admitted Renault's strategy meant it would not be any closer to Mercedes and Ferrari at the start of the season than at the end of 2017.

"Our target is more or less to start in Melbourne with the same performance level as we finished in Abu Dhabi - which is actually quite a decent performance baseline," Abiteboul explained.

"And then we want to make it much more reliable, and make it in a way that we can extract the power in a consistent and sustainable manner - and not have to turn down the engine because of reliability or temperature concerns. That is the baseline.

"Clearly power unit number two will be a step and power unit three will be another step."

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