“The current power unit used since Australia has had several smaller upgrades and all the drivers were very happy with the standard,” said Renault engine chief Remi Taffin. “In parallel, we’ve been working on the new spec since the start of the season but needed to sign off all the parts for reliability and mileage before using on track.
“The tests were very positive and showed it to be more powerful and driveable. We had originally planned to use the new version in Canada when the current units are scheduled to be removed from the cycle, but if we can get the units together and completely validated by Monaco we will use the ones available at this race.”
This could see just one upgraded unit available to each Renault-powered team - their own works squad and Red Bull Racing. Neither has confirmed which driver would get the improved engine in such a scenario, though such decisions often favour the man ranked higher in the championship.
In Renault’s case that would mean Kevin Magnussen, who - unlike team mate Jolyon Palmer - tested the new power unit in Barcelona; and at Red Bull it would be Daniel Ricciardo, who still heads Max Verstappen in the table despite the latter’s maiden win in Spain.
Commenting further on the revised engine, Taffin said: “The power unit we have used since the first race in Australia was really a continuation of the work started in the ‘Spec D’ power unit we introduced at the tail end of 2015. We explored some concepts in that earlier iteration and the 2016 unit took them further, for example in the turbo. This new spec goes even further down the line and also includes significant modifications to the combustion system.”
The upgrades - for which Renault have used a small proportion of their development token allocation - will make the engine more powerful and more efficient. Though unlikely in the confines of Monaco, at other circuits the changes should be worth around half a second per lap.