In the aftermath of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Renault F1 Sport head of track operations Remi Taffin is adamant that the ‘one second gap’ to Mercedes will be closed and that all is in place at Viry-Chatillon to recover from their dismal pre-season.
Taffin said, “It is a fair assessment to say we’re behind Mercedes on the straights. That’s obvious. Saying it is one second is difficult, but it is not one tenth, it’s closer to a second than a tenth or a hundredth. We know how far we are from Mercedes and we know what we can achieve for the next race to close the gap.”
“In the power unit we are running we already have the necessary components to achieve this recovery, it’s just a matter of optimising everything and using everything to the full power. We have to fix the reliability and fix the way we use all these things together and try to make them work,” explained Taffin.
In pre-season testing Renault powered teams struggled to rack up any meaningful mileage, with Red Bull particularly affected by problems during the 12 days in Jerez and Bahrain.
In Melbourne however, the world champions were starting to look like contenders, with Daniel Ricciardo qualifying on the front row and 24 hours later crossing the line in second place, albeit almost half a minute down on Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes.
Despite the deficit to Mercedes, the performance was a boost for Renault as Taffin pointed out, “It’s like we’ve done four days of testing in one afternoon. We will reflect on that for Sepang and come back better, but all in all I’d say it’s a 50/50, as the number of cars we got to the end of the race.”
He added, “Fifty per cent of them did quite well, but not to the level we expect. We still have a way to go. We can operate our engine but there is a downside obviously with the number of cars we didn’t get to the end due to some problems on our side. But it’s not the sort of problem we cannot fix.” (GP247)
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