After a miserable 2014 F1 season, Renault engine chief Remi Taffin believes that the French marque has made significant progress by setting and meeting aggressive targets ahead of the new year of racing.
The Renault engine was noticeably down on power compared to the dominant Mercedes power unit in 2014, meaning that defending world champions Red Bull stood little chance of securing a fifth title in a row.
The issues also prompted Lotus to switch to Mercedes power for 2015, which combined with Caterham’s collapse means that Renault is only powering Red Bull and Toro Rosso (Red Bull’s B team) for the new season.
However, Taffin was satisfied with the first running of the new engines in Jerez, and says that more progress will be made at the next test in Barcelona.
“We’ve wiped the slate clean this year and have new, aggressive targets,” Taffin said. “This week was the first step and we have hit nearly all the objectives we set ourselves.
“The primary goals were to fully integrate the power unit into our partners’ chassis, eliminate the gremlins and then run as much as possible. We covered more than 2,400km over the two teams, which we can be relatively satisfied with at this stage. The Toro Rosso has been running particularly well and is representative of the mileage we need to achieve this season.
“There have been some teething troubles, which have arisen largely because we have been so uncompromising with our aims over the winter. The energy store in particular was being run as aggressively as we could, but we need to explore the limits of the parts in Barcelona to know how far we can push them.”
One of the major problems with the 2014-spec Renault engine was its reliability, but this is a fact that has not been lost on Taffin, who is keeping a close eye on the workings of the engine as well as its performance.
“We want to move more to the performance aspect of the power unit in this test and run in a specification closer to that we will run in Melbourne, of course still keeping a very close eye on reliability,” he said.
Taffin’s thoughts were backed up by Renault Sport managing director Cyril Abiteboul (pictured with Christian Horner) who is confident that his team has taken the right direction for 2015.
“The test this week has been productive and has confirmed that we have taken the right direction with our development choices,” Abiteboul said. “This is reassuring considering the magnitude of the late clarification in regulations with tokens and so on, and how many times we have had to reconsider the various strategic options.
“Yes, we have had a couple of problems, but there have not been any nasty surprises. They were largely due to the fact that, taking our inspiration from the F1 teams, we have tried to push every design decision to the last possible moment to gain as much information as we could.
“Necessarily this means we experienced some issues on track. However all the issues are understood – and some were even anticipated – so we haven’t suffered any setbacks.”