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Renault is on course to produce a more powerful and more reliable engine for the 2018 Formula 1 season, according to its new customer McLaren.
Though Renault won three 2017 grands prix with Red Bull last season, it still trailed Mercedes and Ferrari for power and had reliability problems with the MGU-K in particular.
But with two weeks to go before pre-season testing, McLaren chiefs report that messages from Renault are encouraging.
McLaren executive director Zak Brown said: “There are no alarm bells ringing. They seem to be very confident – although it is best that they talk about the specifics.
“In terms of power and reliability, they are happy with where they are at and what has been happening on the dyno. And specifically the reliability, they think they are on top of it.
“Last year they had the power, and it was when they turned it up that the reliability issues kicked in.
“So they had their issues in Mexico but they also dominated the race, so we are feeling good.”
McLaren chief technical officer (chassis) Tim Goss added: “They have developed the engine. They have improved it and it will be more powerful.”
Last season Renault was unable to match Mercedes and Ferrari’s ‘magic mode’ power boosts for qualifying, but after if that would change for 2018 Brown replied: “I hope so, and I think so”.
McLaren is switching to Renault after three difficult years with Honda, which had returned to F1 after a six-season absence.
The greater experience of the Renault engineers has already struck McLaren chief engineering officer Matt Morris.
“The big difference, speaking with all the guys at Renault, is they have got more experience,” he said.
“Those guys on the ground have been doing it for a lot longer than Honda, that is just a fact, and that is what allowed us to get the packaging done so quickly.
“The same is true in their factory at Viry. It is more mature than Honda. It might not have as many fancy dynos, but they just have more experience.”
With McLaren’s decision to switch to Renault engines coming late last season, there has been little scope for modifications to better accommodate the power unit with the car concept.
But Goss already expects progress in this area for 2019.
Asked if he has seen areas on the engine that he would like to change, he replied “Yes for sure. And they are listening.
“We have made some changes. It is just in that short space of time when we were trying to get the engine into the car, there wasn’t really the time to reconfigure too many things.
“For sure it is a different engine, a different layout and we needed to rethink the way we did some things.
“But then going into 2019 we are already in dialogue with Renault/Viry to see what they can accommodate.”