Renault enter the 2017 season with Nico Hulkenberg spearheading their driver line-up, but the French team’s managing director Cyril Abiteboul is playing down expectations ahead of the first preseason test in Barcelona later this month, but is optimistic they can reel in Mercedes.
Abiteboul told F1i, “2017 will be more of a consolidation year. In Viry, the focus is much more on quality rather than quantity. We may actually reduce slightly the size of our operations.
“On the chassis side, we have recruited something like 100 people, so that is a growth of 20% of headcount, which is a lot. We are going to slow down a little bit the recruitment, make sure everyone is finding their feet.”
“I will be more focused on securing the right department heads, which takes time because of the contractual situation – the more senior you go in an organisation, the longer it takes to get those people.
“But we have some in the pipeline that will join us over the course of the season.”
Renault, through their TAG Heuer badged engines used by Red Bull, closed the gap to Mercedes last year and overtook Ferrari in the power unit pecking order.
When asked if the upward trajectory and closing the gap to Mercedes would continue, Abiteboul was adamant, “There is absolutely no doubt about that, and maybe in the future the potential to overtake them.”