Ricciardo knew? New Renault development the might close the gap

Renault has had struggles since the move to the Hybrid 1.6 V6 era, losing ground to Ferrari and Mercedes in terms of power output and reliability.

Often the case in the modern era, with testing strictly prohibited beyond a handful of official pre, mid and post season test events, now teams have to try developments on the fly on a Friday of a race weekend.

Any correlation errors between the computer simulations and real world are therefore hugely costly; ruining data gathering for qualifying and race setups.

In an effort to eliminate this disconnect between simulation and real world, coupled with the loss of Red Bull Racing’s Milton Keynes setup to assist Renault’s development, the manufacturer has invested in a new engine test bench to use from next month at the headquarters at its Viry-Chatillon facility in France.

In an interview with motorsport.com, Renault’s head of testing equipment development Laurent de Bailleul revealed their plans to close the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari.

“This final stage of validation allows for better preparation before the first test. That’s the real potential.

“With as many elements as possible, it’s more representative. It’s another step compared to how we already start the engine at the factory to make sure the car can actually start and run some laps.”

“At the moment, we only find out about ‘engine and chassis’ issues when we’re on track.

“Now, we’ll see these issues a few weeks earlier, in Viry-Chatillon, so we’ll be better prepared for the first test sessions, where we’re supposed to be able to run and get mileage rather than encounter problems.”

“[These] are sometimes very basic but can take time to be sorted on track and deprive us of running time, while test hours are limited daily and test days are limited yearly.”

Daniel Ricciardo’s hope

And what’s very probably music to the ears of Danny Ric’s fans, is that Renault hopes to use this new cutting edge facility to get a head start on any potential 2021 power unit rule changes that are on the horizon.

Renault is also preparing to expand its 19,000-square metre Viry-Chatillon facility by other 4,000-square metres to eventually incorporate the new test bench equipment, amongst other new technologies.

De Bailleul said: “We’re anticipating the equipment’s obsolescence, as a test bench’s average lifespan is about ten years, and this particular test bench was reaching the end. It was a good opportunity to launch this project.

“We also wanted to anticipate the regulation change in 2021. This bench will be more powerful and will allow us to test more powerful engines, in tune with the potential new rules for 2021 – I’m saying potential, as they’re not confirmed yet.”

No doubt it was this kind of investment that was pitched to Daniel Ricciardo when their secret meetings were held during the summer of last year; soon after which we heard the shock decision to move away from Red Bull to Renault.

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