Renault has decided to halt development work on its current car, with its focus now on factory and staffing improvements to help boost its 2017 challenger.

Although the 2016 campaign has been a disappointment, with the outfit paying the price for the lack of finance last year when it was Lotus, the team has concluded that there is little to gain now in pushing on with upgrades this season.

Instead, following an analysis of the team's strengths and weaknesses, a big push is being made to improve facilities at Enstone as part of an overhaul needed to regain race-winning form.

The changes are being led by Renault F1 chief Cyril Abiteboul, who is relocating to Enstone, and team principal Frederic Vasseur – who have become aware of where the team is lacking after trialling some development earlier in the season.

Focus on 2017

Speaking to, Abiteboul said that all efforts were now on the team's 2017 campaign, with work to improve Enstone already underway.

"The team and the car has not evolved in the way that we wanted it to," he explained. "The reason we wanted to put a little bit of development into this year, not an awful lot, just a little bit, was to understand a bit better the structure. That is what we have done.

"We have all the lessons that we wanted. We have the assessment that we wanted and now we can completely focus on 2017, so that is what has happened. We are now fully on 2017.

"The work and the effort that have been put in 2016 have not been wasted because of the current performance. They were also done on purpose in order to have a good assessment of the team and of the company."

Money no problem

Although Abiteboul did not want to elaborate on what areas the Renault team was lacking, he says it is obvious that investment needs to be made in improving the chassis.

"I don't want to single out one particular group of people - but everyone will know what is the prevailing factor in chassis performance today," he said.

"Now that the power units are starting to come in a narrower bandwidth, it is the good old aero/mechanical grip/tyre understanding that is starting to enter into play.

"That will be the focus and that is where we will be focusing our investment because as a sign of Renault's commitment we will be massively investing into the factory, extending the building, renewing completely the machine shop and so on and so forth.

"We know the areas of weakness, and it is certainly not financial resources. That is one thing where we are absolutely well resourced by Renault, plus we have the stability.

"I will never let anyone think we are where we are because we are lacking financial resources – that is completely inaccurate."

As part of the factory investment, more money will be pumped in to the wind tunnel and simulator, while a new CFD cluster will be commissioned in the summer.

Renault has expanded from 480 staff last winter to now being at just under 550. It plans to go up to 600-650 as soon as possible.

Engine inspiration

Abiteboul said the hope was that the push at Enstone would result in the kind of turnaround in form that he helped engineer on Renault's engine front at Viry-Chatillon.

"If you compare the situation we have now in Viry to the situation we had 18 months ago, frankly it is night and day difference," he said.

"If we are capable of doing the same turnaround in Enstone as we did in Viry, in the same amount of time, I will be and everyone will be more than happy.

"To move from where we are today to become a top team, first you need to be in the midfield, you need to be on podiums, which is an ambition we have for 2018.

"As far as I am concerned I do not see any reason why we would not be capable of being on podiums in 2018."

Still gains to be made

Despite halting development work on this year's car, Abiteboul still believes there is scope from the team to make improvements in performance during the year.

When asked how he saw the rest of the 2016 season panning out, Abiteboul said: "Let's be honest – we have put 2016 behind us and now we are focused on 2017. So it is not going to make anyone happy.

"We will always be trying to get the best out of the car at every single race, we will always try to get the best possible strategy and try to get the best out of our drivers.

"There is still in my opinion some margin for improvement in a number of areas , including on drivers, including on strategy, including on set-up of the car.

"But when it comes to increasing performance of the car of the package, it is pretty much that what we have is what we will get for the rest of the season."


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