Renault 'closer to the limits' - Taffin
Renault believes it will be closer to extracting the maximum performance from its power unit than it has been all season in China.
The Bahrain Grand Prix was a stark reminder to Renault just how far behind the Mercedes-powered teams it is, with only Red Bull managing to break into the top eight. Renault's head of track operations Remi Taffin admits its teams are still at a disadvantage to the front-runners but is expecting to see the biggest improvement yet in Shanghai.
"Overall we're looking forward to China - while we know it's still an uphill battle, we feel we have hit our stride now." Taffin said. "While we know that the others are still ahead, we have made some good progress in the last two races, both in reliability and driveability, particularly in race modes.
"At the test in Bahrain we tested several new software modes that will see us closer to the limits of the Power Unit than before. In the past three races we have been some way from the edge of the performance envelope but these new modes should see us running more to the extreme. The drivers should feel improved driveability and it should also give us greater life from each part."
Mercedes power clearly had the edge over Renault, and Ferrari, in Bahrain and Taffin concedes this is still a problem, but he is also convinced the overall package for a race distance is vastly improved.
"Likewise we have been working on the energy management per lap, particularly in the slow corners. We know we are missing out on the straights but these new steps have given us greater traction in the turns, which should in turn extend tyre life and give greater flexibility on strategies. In fact the greater part of our work has been concentrated on race modes and performance as this is where we believe the bigger steps can be taken, rather than in qualifying.
"All of these improvements should put us a bit closer to the front in China. Of the first four races, it is one of the most difficult. The long straight is of course the major feature of the circuit, but we believe the steps taken in testing will make us less vulnerable. There are also some tricky mid to slow speed corners in Shanghai such as the first 'snail' corner that tightens back on itself. This and the two hairpins give some opportunity for the MGU-K to recover energy under braking but the focus for energy recovery will be on the MGU-H and that long straight."