The Renault works F1 team have finally confirmed they will be switching fuel/lubricant supplier, from Total to BP/Castrol for the 2017 season.
There has been plenty of speculation previously regarding the Enstone factories plans, after uncertainty around Total’s future in the sport began to escalate towards the end of last season.
The switch to BP is also expected to fall inline with McLaren’s plans, who are themselves expected to be joining forces with BP/Castrol for the 17 campaign.
Cyril Abiteboul from Renault, expects the change in lubricant supplier could deliver a massive advantage for the team this year.
“With the new aerodynamic regulations for the 2017 Formula 1 season, power sensitivity will increase,” he said.
“Therefore fuels and lubricants will make an even greater difference to the overall performance of the car than they have since the new power unit regulations have been introduced in 2014.
“The teams at BP and Castrol are very excited by the challenges offered by Formula 1 and we are confident they will help us achieve our ambitions for our new car in 2017 and beyond.”
The lubricant merry-go-round was completed when Red Bull Racing confirmed that they will be partnering with Exxon/Mobil, previous supplier of McLaren. What this means for Renault is that they will have a clear benchmark to work towards, as their engines will be supported by two different fuel suppliers this year.
Abiteboul thinks that having this situation for 17 can actually deliver some benefit in promoting competition between the different companies.
“I always prefer simplicity because we have enough complexity to absorb, so it is better if it is only one,” he said. “But there are a number of engine suppliers who have been very successful in the past with two homologations.
“I would say also having two creates diversity, creates competition, creates inspiration – just like having different customer teams, Red Bull is a great inspiration for Enstone and a benchmark.
“Benchmarking is not unnecessary in the sport – but it means something in terms of operations, in terms of ring fencing IP because we want to protect IP of everyone we are working with, and it is completely fair. It is an extra concern but not something that is not achievable.”
Last year we saw how much performance could be gained from the lubricant war, as the Mercedes / Petronas secrets were slowly revealed. Lets not forget that Toro Rosso will also use the Renault/BP combination on their cars, after using outdated Ferrari units in 2016.
Chassis’s aside… it will be interesting to see which team gains the most from their Renault ‘lump’.