JUNE 3, 2015
Renault expecting two penalties per car in 2015
Every engine manufacturer in F1 has been busy preparing upgrades for its 2015 'power units'.
Ferrari and Honda have traded in the very first in-season performance 'tokens' in the days between Monaco and Canada, while Mercedes is taking a reliability upgrade to Montreal.
And the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, closely following the early career of local rookie Max Verstappen, said Red Bull and Toro Rosso supplier Renault is also heading to Canada with a reliability update.
The French marque has struggled not only with performance so far in 2015, but also reliability, with all Renault-powered cars in the field burning quickly through their allocation of four engines for the entire season.
"Unfortunately we are doing damage control from a sporting point of view now," Renault's Cyril Abiteboul admitted.
"Therefore, we should think about using the fifth engine already. Not because we cannot use the fourth, but also so we can begin using the fifth."
A main problem so far has been in the basic piston design, and so the current upgrade is believed to have addressed that area.
Fitting the fifth engine, of course, attracts ten-position grid penalties, but Abiteboul played down the impact.
"I know there is a lot of frustration," the Frenchman admitted, "but ten place penalties in tracks where you can overtake and a car is out of place, you can quite easily make up during the race.
"So I'm sorry for my customer teams but I don't think it's a big game-changer for the championship," he added.
And the very next engine upgrade in the pipeline for Renault, it is believed, involves the spending of 'tokens' for performance.
Sixth engines, then, will attract even more grid penalties.
"It will happen," Abiteboul confirmed, "maybe twice per car unfortunately."