Renault: Gap to where we want to be still substantial
25 February 2014 – Renault Sport F1's Rob White has said that while the French manufacturer is now ‘going in the right direction’ he is under no illusions about the task ahead and has conceded the gap to where they want to be is still ‘substantial’.
The Renault-powered teams did only 150 or so laps during the opening 2014 F1 season test at Jerez, but encouragingly did a lot more last week in Bahrain, with Red Bull Racing, Lotus, Toro Rosso and Caterham managing over 600 tours in total.
“We have had some set-backs, but we have definitely made progress and have taken several steps forward,” White said following the opening four-day test at the Sakhir circuit. “The changes have improved the Power Unit [PU] behaviour in the car and we are have accumulated valuable mileage. There have been stoppages, on our side and on the chassis side as well, but we have ironed out some important faults and allowed the teams to gain crucial experience of the car as a whole. We have seen that minor incidents can cause downtime that is difficult or impossible to recover. In particular, we lost more time than anticipated on the final day. [But]
while we are not at the level of operation and performance we would want to be, we have a more solid basis to work from, and we are moving in the right direction.”
Pressed on if Renault is back on schedule, he added: “We have made some good headway, in terms of PU performance and operation in the car, we are now in a situation we could have accepted mid-Jerez. We have solved some problems and revealed some others."
"[However] we are not back on schedule but we are moving in the right direction," he stressed, "the running we have done is very valuable. The challenge is to improve the rate of progress, because the gap to where we wanted to be at this stage remains substantial. We are some weeks behind where we wanted to be, and we acknowledge it will take time to unlock the full performance of the PU. We are working hard to get there and we are determined to succeed. We remain confident in the PU and its sub systems, we are just not at the level of operation and performance we want to be.”
The final pre-season test will get underway on Thursday this week and with the engine homologation deadline looming and the race engines for the opening race in Australia in the early stages of build, White stated that there is a ‘huge amount of work in progress’ back at Renault’s Viry base.
“The Viry team is working night and day to solve our problems. The collaboration with our teams is closer than ever. The rate of development is extremely rapid away from the track and that we can create and validate effective solutions very quickly shows the resolve and tenacity of all our team members. We now have a list of issues we will address. There are of course priority calls to sort out the most important ones from the background noise, but we will come back stronger at the next test and continue to learn about the Power Unit and prepare for Melbourne,” he concluded.