Renault has played down expectations for the first season of their return as a Formula One manufacturer, admitting that it expects to be “playing catch-up” rather than challenging for victory in 2016.
Renault struggled to match the power output of their rivals last year, while the French manufacturer’s late takeover of the Lotus team – that also encountered some financial difficulties in 2015 – had an impact on chassis design because of the subsequent switch away from Mercedes power.
“We recognize the fact we are starting with a handicap compared to the winner,” Renault Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn said. “We think we have the talent and willingness and experience in order to close the gap.”
“It may take some time, but we will close the gap. We are not here just to participate, we are here to compete and to win. It is not going to happen in 2016. Let’s not think of a miracle,” Ghosn added.
Renault Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul was also cautious, adding, “In Formula One, we have to be realistic about 2016. In some areas we are playing catch up – it’s no secret that we missed the start of the new power unit regulations and Enstone needs a bit of TLC [tender loving care].”
“This is a year to re-build relations, re-energise both Enstone and Viry and create synergies within the Renault Sport Racing group and the wider Renault-Nissan Alliance. That’s not to say that we will write off the year, but we are aiming to put everything in place for improved success in 2017,” he added.
Renault Chassis Technical Director Nick Chester admitted uncertainty over the team’s direction for 2016 had created challenges, but said homologating the RS16 race car proved the Enstone-based team are still a formidable force.
“It was a very late switch in the development program for the 2016 car, which has meant a tight schedule with the chassis,” Chester said.
“It’s been a super compact program, but we’ve seen with the homologation of the chassis that we can react quickly and do a great job. The response of the workforce at Enstone has been terrific. After all the travails of the past, everyone is back and firing on all cylinders working relentlessly on the tasks at hand. It’s amazing to see,” he added.