Renault expects to roll out a series of gradual enhancements to its power unit over the course of this year, rather than a major upgrade as was introduced last year, according to Renault Sport Racing Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul.
Abiteboul told the official Formula 1 website during this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix that no major step in performance upgrade would be rolled out in 2017.
Instead, he said Red Bull Racing was the one that had suggested a major upgrade would come at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku next race.
“Last year we created a huge expectation and we came with an upgrade that had a big impact. But we can’t repeat that every year,” Abiteboul told the F1 website.
“Frankly the next big upgrade will be next year. Then we will have a completely new concept. That will make a difference – but as I said 2018.”
In spite of the power gap to the Mercedes and Ferrari units, Renault has made it onto the podium each of the last three races with Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull – albeit aided a bit by some key retirements at both Spain and Canada and with both Mercedes (Monaco) and Ferrari (Canada) having relative off weekends.
The Renault factory team has improved this season, with Nico Hulkenberg’s fourth score of the season Sunday in Canada already moving the team ahead of its entire number of races scored last year. Between Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer, that pairing scored in only three races for a total of eight points.
Hulkenberg now has four scores, and all 18 of Renault’s points for the season. Rumors surfaced over the weekend and were relayed during the NBCSN broadcast that Palmer’s place in the team may be under threat before the end of the year. The Englishman’s endured a difficult sophomore season and is yet to score in seven races.