Renault has solved the drive problems of the MGU-K in time before the beginning of the season. Will this give Verstappen or Ricciardo a chance to win?
Auto, Motor und Sport are reporting that Renault’s engine department made a brakethrough that should solve their problem. Not only the Renault F1 team will benefit from this, as it seemed that the other Renault powered teams￼, Red Bull and Toro Rosso, had similar problems during the winter tests. The engine department in Viry-Chatillon has solved the problems with the drive of the MGU-K. During the test drives in Barcelona, at least four MGU-K units had to be replaced, because the electric component of the all new Renault engine repeatedly stopped working.
This means that not only the Renault drivers Hülkenberg and Palmer but also the Red Bull team of Ricciardo and Verstappen along with the Toro Rosso team Sainz and Kvyat will be able to drive with an engine in full power mode on Saturday during the qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix. Furthermore Renault gave the green light to use the originally planned engine settings for the race.
In the Barcelona tests earlier this year the Renault powered teams had to drive with tuned down engines, after the first problems occurred. Mercedes had calculated that the Renault powered teams lost at least half a second per lap, because of the safe mode they were driving in. Does this mean the Red Bull drivers will be able to fight against Ferrari and Mercedes? Only time will tell.
Apart from the engine news Renault also commented that it is working on a new front wing (planned to be on the car in Bahrain) and a new front axle (planned to be run for the first time in Russia).
This was one of the reasons why Nico Hülkenberg decided to leave Force India in favor of a factory team. Renault has financial resources Force India can only dream of with the net result that Renault can develop at the level of the top teams. This can already be seen at the start of the season in Melbourne. The Renault￼ R.S.17 has a modified diffuser, new front wing elements and upgraded brakes, compared with the winter test car.
The major planned Renault upgrades are currently in production. During the Grand Prix of Bahrain they will debut a new front wing. And at the Russia Grand Prix, Renault will be driving with a new front axle. This time they developed a “blown” front axle. Ferrari, Red Bull and Force India have been using this technology for quite some time now. Essentially the front axle will channel the air into the brake ducts for cooling and it will give Renault a chance to influence the air stream around the front tires, by pushing (or blowing) the air out. The wind tunnel tests showed significant progress with these upgrades. This makes Renault hopeful that they can out-develop their main rivals. And I’m sure Hülkenberg feels the same!
Ferrari example of the blown fornt axle.