Renault has promised its teams it is working hard to deliver a “magic” qualifying mode for 2018, in a bid to help them take the fight to Mercedes and Ferrari in qualifying.
Although the French car manufacturer’s power unit is proving to be a match for rival engines in the races, it is still lacking when it comes to the ability of unleash an extra power boost for Q3.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner thinks the lack of the kind of ‘magic’ mode that Mercedes has is pretty significant – and making all the difference when it comes to grabbing a slot at the front of the grid.
Horner said: “The problem with qualifying is we don’t have the high power modes that our competitors have. I am sure there is close to half a second in that.
“We could see in qualifying [in Malaysia], there wasn’t a single corner where our car was slower than our opponents.”
Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul has confirmed that the qualifying issue is being addressed by staff at his company’s Viry-Chatillon base.
“We are not doing any other steps than trying to do the best we can for having a competitive engine next year, but not just competitive, because we believe that the engine is already competitive,” he explained.
“It is certainly very competitive on a Sunday, but there is clearly a bit missing on Saturday in qualifying. We don’t have that sort of ‘magic’ qualifying mode, but we are working hard on it.
“The performance of the engine will improve very sensitively for next year, not just for qualifying, but also for the race, which makes me believe that the engine will be extremely competitive.”
While teams are chasing more performance for the Saturdays, Abiteboul says his actual bigger concern is improving reliability – with a number of failures having hurt Renault’s teams this year.
“The focus has to be reliability,” he said. “You know, we’ve lost a lot of points this season because of lack of reliability of the whole package, which to me is directly related to the fact that the team is changing very quickly.
“We are growing, we are recruiting lots of people. When you do that, it is typically reliability that is impacted. That will be the first thing to fix for the short term future.”