Interlagos, BRAZIL, November 23rd, 2013 (F1Plus / Bruno Ferreira) - Engine manufacturer Renault is pretty confident that it will start the new engines era in F1 from 2014 as strong as it finished with the V8 units.
Since the current engines were used for the first time, in 2006, Renault managed five times to win the Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles (four with Red Bull Racing and one with its own team), being by far the most successful engine manufacturer of this era.
From 2014 onwards, everything is about to change, as the new V6 turbo power units will be made from scratch. F1 Plus spoke with Renault head of track operations, Rémi Taffin, who shared his thoughts about the new challenges, showing some confidence of more wins under the new rules.
“With the nature of the new power unit with the complete new design, it will obviously make difference through the engine manufacturers,” he said. “Let’s say I’m 99% sure that we’ll have a power unit that is able to win at Melbourne. I wouldn’t say 100% because there is no such thing in motor racing. It’s like Vettel these days when people are always expecting him to win, but it’s not like this.”
Taffin says that it will be crucial to make all the parts of the power unit (including the ERS and the turbo) to work smoothly together, as reliability will also play a role as important as performance. “There is much more dependency in between the all the engine components. If we miss one of engine it’ll be a differential of performance so definitely reliability is needed on every single component on the power unit. If we don’t finish races, we don’t score points. We will have five power units for next year and if you lose one, it’s a massive impact,” he reckons.
Another concern for the engine manufacturers is the fuel consumption. The new rules require each car to use a maximum of 100 kg per race, which can give headaches to the teams at some tracks. “Every simulation we’ve done so far has shown that at some of the tracks will be okay because we completed the race distance below 100 kg, but there are some races we would need an extra five or six kilograms. So we need to work this out,” he explained.
He adds: “If we get to Monza, for example, it will worry. At the same time there are the battery management and the electric, which will also be very hard. Sometimes we’ll have to set them up in an opposite way of what would be easier for the fuel. There is much more balance in between electric and fuel on board next year.”
However, although the teams and manufacturers will be facing a completely different situation, Taffin doesn’t think that F1 next year will be only about the engines. “Let’s put it on this way: we still have the car, the chassis, the driver and the engine. That’s the way it is and that is not going to change”, he said. “The ranking is still going to be the same. I can’t see one car going slower by one second due to the nature of the power unit, unless the four teams that we are supplying next year are three seconds off we can say ‘okay, we’ve done a bad job’. But I think is going to be difficult to separate all the factors.”
Taffin dismisses rumours about Mercedes’ early upper hand
Although nobody knows accurately how well the new power units will perform, there are some rumours in the F1 paddock that Mercedes will have an advantage in the early stages of the season. However, Taffin says that it’s too soon to have an idea about everyone’s form. “We haven’t got any big lines on what the others are doing. What we do know is that everybody is struggling because the regulations are very tight, but whether they are in front of us or not, we don’t know,” Taffin said.
“And, to be completely fair, we don’t really care because at the stage we are now there is nothing we can really do. Maybe for 2015, but 2014 is already there. We just need to see where we are.”
From next year, Renault will supply power units to Lotus, Caterham, Toro Rosso and Red Bull – the winner of the last four championships. Taffin said he doesn’t feel any extra pressure because of the recent success of the Austrian team.
“To be really fair with you, there couldn’t more pressure than we’ve been having on the last five years. Whether is a V8 or a V6, you must be reliable all the time, so it will be the same next year. Obviously it’s a brand new technology, but the job is the same. I mean, maybe the pressure is different, but it’s in the same amount,” he said.