JANUARY 22, 2016
Renault says Red Bull era was going nowhere
Renault concluded last year that returning to winning ways in collaboration with Red Bull would not be possible.
That is the admission of Cyril Abiteboul, the French marque's F1 managing director, as Renault now prepares for the 2016 season after buying back Lotus.
For 2016, however, the Enstone team actually designed its 'Lotus' car for a Mercedes rather than a Renault power unit, so Abiteboul admitted to F1 Racing magazine that the new works team is having to be "humble".
Senior engineer Alan Permane confirmed: "The car is not going to be where we want it to be, but we will quickly overcome those problems.
"This year is about building our relationships back up. With the new rules for 2017, that's when we need to start making ourselves much more competitive," he added.
According to Abiteboul, going through the process of rebuilding a full works team rather than trying to resurrect the old Red Bull days was the only option.
Amid the worsening relations with Red Bull last year, the Frenchman said it became "obvious" that Renault was "going nowhere" with the energy drink brand.
"So we tried to move Renault-Red Bull away from that model," said Abiteboul.
"With modern regulations, it is very difficult to be a successful engine supplier if you cannot control the full package, because you need to have a more holistic approach to the car", he said.
"The frustration when you are in a customer-supplier model with anyone - but in particular Red Bull - was that Red Bull were investing a fortune in the chassis at a time when the regulations were dictating that we had to invest much more massively in engine technology to drive performance and sporting results," said Abiteboul.
The result, he said, was the realisation that success required a full works team and a bigger budget.
"The first thing is that we will have the luxury of more manoeuvrability in the budget," said Abiteboul. "We have more than double, not quite triple, the overall budget we had before.
"And you can expect to see quite a lot of changes to the organisation and new roles created to bridge in a better way what we do on the chassis and engine sides."
Renault will reveal its full plans for the 2016 season at an event in Paris on February 3.