This morning at the headquarters of Renault Sport F1 at Viry-Chatillon, in the southern suburbs of Paris, the Renault company gave some details about its plans for the year ahead, and a little more insight into how things are developing with the 2014 engines.
Jean-Michael Jalinier and Rob White were joined by Gaspar Gascon-Abellan, the director of Powertrain Engineering of the main Renault company and by Renault Ambassador Alain Prost, who noted that it is now 20 years since his last World Championship success in 1993. The details of the season ahead were of little real interest, although the work is certainly keeping the team busy, as engines are prepared for the company’s four customer teams.
Much of the focus of the event was explaining more about the highly complex 1.6-litre V6 turbos that will be used in 2014. There was a very basic engine running on the dynos, although the Renault folks made the point that the finished result is going to be very different, as more lessons are being learned all the time about the planned units. This is all fascinating but wildly difficult to explain in a neat and easy fashion, suffice to say that the engineers are confident that they can produce around the same level of horsepower from a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, with recovery systems and a rev limit of 15,000rpm, than they can with a gas-guzzling 2.4-litre V8, revving to 18,000. Prost said that the new formula will help to align the sport more closely with the industry needs at the moment and allow those involved to demonstrate their technology and their expertise.
What was just as interesting was a quiet remark from Jalinier that at the moment Renault has no deals with any teams for 2014 and beyond. Clearly there are talks going on with the current customers: Red Bull Racing, Lotus F1, Williams and Caterham and Jalinier added that there is no agreement over the maximum number of engine supplies per manufacturer, and said that probably with three engine suppliers there would be some kind of agreement to have four teams apiece, to ensure that everyone has a deal. However he did admit that five teams might be an option as a maximum number. The 2014 engine package will cost around $26 million per team per year, compared to the current figure of around $20 million, when KERS and engineering support have been added to the basic price tag.
There was a clear feeling at Renault that more competition will be coming into Formula 1 in 2015 and 2016. The latter year is deemed to be more likely because that will give the newcomers the opportunity to see what solutions have been adopted by the three “pioneers” and that will give any newcomers the opportunity to know what NOT to do.
The general feeling was the first company to come in will be Honda, but that Porsche will probably follow, depending on the political situation within the sport. There could well be others.There have been rumours for some weeks that Gilles Simon, the man who formulated the new regulations and then went to work for the now-defunct PURE engine project, has moved to England and is already at work on a new project, with the speculation suggesting that this could be Honda, as the company has based its F1 activities there before.
Jalinier also said that Renault is paying close attention to the new Formula E and said that some of the Renault engineers were involved in helping the new series.