Renault will bring upgraded-specification power units for this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, although it is not known whether either of its customer teams, Red Bull Racing or Scuderia Toro Rosso, will elect to use them.
The engine supplier – which is set to return as a fully-fledged constructor in 2016 should its takeover of the Lotus F1 Team be successful – has finally cashed in some of its available development tokens in a bid to close the gap to rival power unit suppliers Mercedes and Ferrari.
“We will have our new specification of power unit available to use in Austin,” said Renault Director of Operations Rémi Taffin.
“The primary changes involve the internals of the ICE [Internal Combustion Engine] to give improved power and efficiency.
“We know that introducing the new power unit will incur a grid penalty so the decision to use will be made in full consultation with the teams. At this point of the season obviously points are crucial so if circumstances allow then we will use on track.
“Our reliability has been good in the last three races and performance more in line with our expectations; both our teams just need a clean weekend to show the improved potential of both packages.”
Whether either of its customer teams elects to use the new power units is not yet known. Should either of the Red Bull Racing pilots, Daniel Ricciardo or Daniil Kvyat, switch to the upgraded engine, they will incur a grid penalty for Sunday’s race at the Circuit of the Americas as each driver has already exceeded the maximum number of power units that can be used per season.
Ricciardo has already downplayed the likelihood that the team will use the upgraded power units.
“It’s available if we want to use it, but obviously that would mean a penalty,” the Australian said ahead of this weekend’s race.
“We’ve got to understand if it is worth it. The last I heard is not massive, so from my understanding is it is probably not worth taking it. We’re down such a chunk, I don’t think we’re going to gain enough.
“If we start from the back [of the grid] I don’t think we’re going to make up the ground we need with it. Right now we are less likely to take it. That’s about it.
“Hopefully today they tell me something different and we’ll find a bigger chunk of horsepower from it, but realistically it’s not going to be worth a lot.”
While Toro Rosso is expected to announce it has secured a deal to use 2015-spec Ferrari power units next year, Red Bull Racing remains without a confirmed power unit supply deal next season.
The team terminated its contract with Renault during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend in the hopes of landing a customer Mercedes power unit supply deal. Mercedes has, however refused Red Bull’s overtures, while fellow rival Ferrari has refused the team’s demands that it be supplied with 2016-spec motors.
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