The French supplier suffered a difficult pre-season testing period and despite making progress over the first three race weekends of the year, its power-unit remains some way off the reliability and performance of rivals Mercedes.
Rémi Taffin, head of track operations at Renault Sport F1, expects improvements to be made in Shanghai after numerous updates were trialled at last week’s in-season test; although he admits that the teams running the power-unit will still be at a disadvantage.
“We’re feeling more confident ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix,” he said. “While we know that the others are still ahead, we have made some good progress in the last two races, both in reliability and driveability, particularly in race modes.
“At the test in Bahrain we tested several new software modes that will see us closer to the limits of the power unit than before. In the past three races we have been some way from the edge of the performance envelope but these new modes should see us running more to the extreme. The drivers should feel improved driveability and it should also give us greater life from each part.”
He added: “Likewise we have been working on the energy management per lap, particularly in the slow corners. We know we are missing out on the straights but these new steps have given us greater traction in the turns, which should in turn extend tyre life and give greater flexibility on strategies.
“In fact the greater part of our work has been concentrated on race modes and performance as this is where we believe the bigger steps can be taken, rather than in qualifying. All of these improvements should put us a bit closer to the front in China.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic