Although Renault has greatly improved its power units over the last year, they still are inferior to those made by Ferrari or Mercedes. But that might not be the case in 2018.
After getting its units to a point at which they no longer are woefully down on power, much of Renault’s focus throughout 2017 has been on improving their reliability. That still will be its primary concern during the offseason, but Renault also has a plan to make its engines’ one-lap performance on par with Mercedes,’ according to Motorsport.com.
“It is certainly very competitive on a Sunday, but there is clearly a bit missing on Saturday in qualifying,” Renault Sport F1 Team boss, Cyril Abiteboul, said. “We don’t have that sort of ‘magic’ qualifying mode, but we are working hard on it.”
If the French manufacturer successfully develops a high-power qualifying engine mode, it not only would benefit the works team, but also Red Bull Racing and McLaren — which will run Renault power, rather than Honda, next year. Should that be the case, Mercedes-AMG Petronas and Scuderia Ferrari’s drivers could have stiff competition for pole on a regular basis.
Red Bull currently thinks it has one of the strongest chassis in the field, and the Renault power unit has been its limiting factor.
“We could see in qualifying (in Malaysia), there wasn’t a single corner where our car was slower than our opponents,” Christian Horner said, via Motorsport.com.
Whether the quali mode also would give McLaren the ability to challenge Mercedes and Ferrari on Saturdays in 2018 admittedly isn’t as clear. The Woking, England-based outfit’s chassis is strong, but it’s designed around Honda’s engine, meaning McLaren essentially will have to completely redesign the back end ahead of next season.