Renault have said that dyno testing of its 2017 spec Formula One engine is showing some signs of encouragement.
The French manufacturer returned to the sport this year as a full blown constructor re-buying the Lotus team from Genii Capital, which means focussing on chassis development as well as the power unit side of life.
Their power unit initially came under intense scrutiny in 2014 and 2015, due to their V6 struggling to match the competiveness of Mercedes and Ferrari.
For this weekend in Singapore, the power unit will see a small upgrade as the team are expected to use ‘a few’ tokens of their 21 remaining.
However it is the results from the 2017 lump running on the dyno which is getting Renault excited, as they strive to move further up the grid. Team principal Fred Vasseur is generally pleased with Renault progress this year, but hopes are infact high of an even bigger step next year.
“We had two good steps, the first one before the race [in Melbourne] last winter and the other one for Monaco/Canada,” Vasseur told Motorsport.com. “I think we are not so far from the Mercedes.
“We are still a bit behind, but if you have a look at the GPS data we are a bit behind but we are improving.
“We know exactly what we have on the bench for 2017 because the V6 is already on the bench and I think it is encouraging.”
Whilst engine customers Red Bull are targeting victories, Vasseur would be happy to see the works squad contesting the top 5 regularly.
“We have the road map from Ghosn that says in year three you are able to go for podiums and in year five you are able to win some races,” he said. “So, between today and year three, we have to be in a position to do a podium.
“To cross the line then we can imagine to be in a position to be P5 next year. I think it will be a good achievement.”
Renault’s poor form this year may have been surprising as much was made about their return as a constructor, but Vasseur confirmed the 2015 results are of no real surprise.
“We knew the numbers and we knew perfectly that the car was designed at the beginning of 2015 and had not been developed at all during the season,” he said. “Plus it was designed for the Mercedes engine, and we kept exactly the same chassis to put the Renault inside.
“To go on track was a bit challenging. We took the company over two months before Barcelona and for sure you cannot expect to be in a good shape.
“Okay you can say that last year they were able to do good results but it was designed in 2015 for 2015 and for the Mercedes engine. So if you are deeply involved in the system then you say no way.”
By all accounts Renault’s progress has been vast this year, and a three way fight for top engine supplier is not too far away (if not here already). Then, the unwanted attention will undoubtedly shift to Honda.