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.
Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.
The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.
Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.
“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”
Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”
Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.
The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.