Renault F1 chief Cyril Abiteboul doesn’t expect F1 to break the 1000 bhp barrier in 2017, but believes it is possible to reach that figure under current engine regulations.
While aerodynamics is the primary focus for 2017, incremental upgrades to the V6 hybrid engines are expected to raise the power output close to 1980 levels.
While some predictions have suggested that Mercedes will cross the 1000 bhp mark, Abiteboul believes it will take some time before F1 engines can produce enough grunt to reach a four digit figure.
“I think the top performance of the power units will be between 900 and 950 HP,’’ Abiteboul told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport. “The teams that count on 1,000 hp may be a bit too optimistic. I think even Mercedes will not reach it.”
“But this achievement is definitely achievable within the current regulations. We have some radical concepts in the pipeline to jump over this mark. However, those not for this season. We need more time,” he added.
Pressure is also piling on Renault to deliver results after a trying return to Formula 1 last year.
While scoring podium finishes in 2017 is an important target for Abiteboul, he was also keen to stress on the longer term ambition of his squad.
“Our roadmap is set. By 2020 we want to fight for the championship. If we want to go there, we have to be able to get one or two podiums in 2018,” he said.
“This means again for this season that we have to in the midfield. This is anything but easy. But we have legitimate hopes of finishing between places five and seven in the championship”
Speaking specifically about engine performance, Abiteboul downplayed any expectations for the start of the new season, but expects Renault to pick up pace as the year wores on.
"We don't expect to be able to draw level with Mercedes when the season starts,” he said. “But we do think we should be close enough for Red Bull to take the fight to Mercedes if they can build a good chassis. And I'm pretty sure they will.
“Our aim is to beat Mercedes engine-wise in 2018, but this year they will remain in front."
by Rachit Thukral