Alain Prost thinks Renault faces a tougher decision in deciding whether or not to switch all its focus to 2017 because of its current struggles.
The French car manufacturer has had a disappointing start to the campaign, with the outfit paying the price for the lack of development that happened last year under its old Lotus owners.
And although it is putting together a long-term plan to get back to the front of the grid, it is currently only ninth in the constructors’ championship, having scored just six points so far this season.
For Prost, who has had a long association with Renault, the current difficulties are greater than he predicted – and put the team in a hard spot in trying to work out what to do.
“It is maybe more difficult than they thought, because of the late decision [to buy the team],” explained Prost. “I was expecting maybe a little bit more performance but not much more.
“I think the problem is not what you can see today, the problem is more how you try to understand why it is not working so well until the end of the year. It’s how you manage to get the people happy and motivated until the end of the year, and to get the best car possible for 2017.”
Renault has been clear that, in a bid to keep the team focused, it must continue to develop the 2016 car, otherwise it risks its progress getting stagnated.
But Prost thinks how best to balance out the 2016/2017 resources is a tough call to make, especially with the team so far down the order.
“I don’t know what they do for the next three, four or five races, but at some stage you need to make a decision – do we continue to try to develop the 2016 car or do we go straight to 2017?
“That is a difficult decision to make and when you are so low it is not that easy. It is easier if you in the middle of the field or at the front.”
Prost believes that ultimately Renault just needs time to get the right personnel and structure in place.
“Things are moving. They are waiting for new people coming.
"When I was at my team a long time ago, we started with 65 people and went up to 200 people. And even from 65 to 200 is quite difficult to make things work and get people coming at the same time. You end up having the old generation and the new generation.
“There is what people did in the past, so when you have people coming, it has to take a little bit of time. The bad luck [for Renault] is that the car is not working well – and it is more difficult when the car is not working well.”