POSTED BY: JAMES ALLEN | 21 MAY 2016 | 12:25 PM GMT | 44 COMMENTS
Renault F1 engine chief Remi Taffin has said that the new upgraded engine, expected to be seen in Monaco next weekend, is actually worth a half second a lap in performance terms, compared to the unit that started the season.
It is a big number and exceeds the 0.4s a lap that was being mooted as the performance gain. If it comes through, then this will put Red Bull Racing closer to Mercedes in qualifying pace and right on, or even slightly ahead of, their race pace. It should also move Renault’s works teams a few rows up the grid in what is a tightly contested midfield this season.
This admission from Taffin follows a successful test in Barcelona this week, where both Renault and main customer Red Bull ran the unit. There is some discussion about how the new unit will be deployed in Monaco, as the original scheduled date for its first race outing was Canada, but it is possible that one unit for each team will be rushed through to be available next week.
The focus of the work has been the turbo and on combustion, two areas where all manufacturers had some catching up to do with Mercedes, that has been the benchmark under the new hybrid turbo rules since 2014.
“The tests were very positive and showed it to be more powerful and drivable,” said Taffin. “We had originally planned to use the new version in Canada when the current units are scheduled to be removed from the cycle, but if we can get the units together and completely validated by Monaco we will use the ones available at this race.
“The power unit we have used since the first race in Australia was really a continuation of the work started in the ‘Spec D’ power unit we introduced at the tail end of 2015,” said Taffin. “We explored some concepts in that earlier iteration and the 2016 unit took them further, for example in the turbo. This new spec goes even further down the line and also includes significant modifications to the combustion system. It will make the ICE more powerful but also efficient, leading to a gain of around half a second per lap. We’ve used a small proportion of our token allocation for this upgrade.
Both Renault and Red Bull will have to decide which driver gets the latest engine for Monaco. The windy street track isn’t really one which rewards horsepower, it’s much more about drivability on the engine side and confidence on the driver’s side, but every little helps. The real boost will come in Montreal and the Red Bull Ring, Austria, both of which are power circuits.
It’s usually the lead driver in the championship who gets priority; the Red Bull situation will be charged as the team split the strategies in Spain, under threat from Ferrari for the race win and the more senior driver, Daniel Ricciardo, was given the strategy which proved less favourable. Prioritising him for the new unit should calm the situation a little, as the Australian admits that he is still struggling to come to terms with losing a race that he had under control.