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Renault 'not expecting miracles' in 2016

03 Feb 2016

Renault have played down expectations for the first season of their return as a Formula One manufacturer, admitting that they expect to be 'playing catch-up' rather than challenging for victory in 2016.

Renault struggled to match the power output of their rivals last year, while the French manufacturer's late takeover of the Lotus team - who themselves encountered some financial difficulties in 2015 - had an impact on chassis design because of the subsequent switch away from Mercedes power.

"We recognise the fact we are starting with a handicap compared to the winner," Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn explained. "We think we have the talent and willingness and experience in order to close the gap.

"It may take some time, but we will close the gap. We are not here just to participate, we are here to compete and to win. It is not going to happen in 2016. Let's not think of a miracle."

Managing director Cyril Abiteboul was also cautious, adding: "In Formula One, we have to be realistic about 2016. In some areas we are playing catch-up - it's no secret that we missed the start of the new power unit regulations and Enstone needs a bit of TLC. 

"This is a year to re-build relations, re-energise both Enstone and Viry and create synergies within the Renault Sport Racing group and the wider Renault-Nissan Alliance. That's not to say that we will write off the year, but we are aiming to put everything in place for improved success in 2017."

Chassis technical director Nick Chester admitted uncertainty over the team's direction for 2016 had created challenges, but said homologating the R.S.16 proved that the Enstone-based team are still a formidable force.

"It was a very late switch in the development programme for the 2016 car, which has meant a tight schedule with the chassis," Chester said. 

"It's been a super compact programme, but we've seen with the homologation of the chassis that we can react quickly and do a great job. The response of the workforce at Enstone has been terrific. After all the travails of the past, everyone is back and firing on all cylinders working relentlessly on the tasks at hand. It's amazing to see. 

"We want a stable base to enable us to introduce developments through the year. The first iteration shouldn't have any surprises but we'll be working on a number of aspects to improve the car through the season as well as lay the groundwork for 2017 and beyond.

"2016 is about getting the car out and learning lessons on track as we build the team rather than having set aspirations for on-track performance."