Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul believes there is “absolutely no doubt” that their new engine will be eventually capable of challenging Mercedes.
The French manufacturer finished ninth in the Constructors’ Championship last year and there is a belief that they will be able to look further up the standings once they know they are working with a reliable unit.
“We have got to confirm the turnaround that we started last year – because it is not completed yet,” Abiteboul told Motorsport.com.
“We have a completely new engine architecture that we are introducing this year, and the first challenge with that will be to make it reliable.
“We already know for sure that it will offer the potential of performance to match Mercedes. There is absolutely no doubt about that. And maybe in the future the potential to overtake them.
“But first it has to be reliable. That is the main challenge and that is what we want to get. Also reliability will be important to develop the chassis.”
Abitboul also suggested that Renault may actually cut down on personnel currently working on the engine after a heavy recruitment process, which includes the arrival of Pete Machin, formerly of Red Bull, in the summer.
“2017 will be more of a consolidation year,” he added.
“In Viry, the focus is much more on quality rather than quantity.
“We may actually reduce slightly the size of our operations.
“On the chassis side, we have recruited something like 100 people, so that is a growth of 20% of headcount, which is a lot.
“We are going to slow down a little bit the recruitment, make sure everyone is finding their feet.
“I will be more focused on securing the right department heads, which takes time because of the contractual situation – the more senior you go in an organisation, the longer it takes to get those people.”