McLaren technical director James Key believes Renault’s power unit is “in the mix” with Mercedes as McLaren look to retain best of the rest in 2020.
This season marks McLaren’s final year with Renault power with the team having already announced it will be returning to Mercedes engines in 2021.
Key is hoping the last season of the McLaren-Renault partnership will be a successful one.
The technical director, who joined McLaren from Toro Rosso in 2019, says Renault made notable steps forward in 2019.
“I think one of the positives from last year is Renault made a very visible step forward, data and straight-line speed and so on, and that was definitely part of how the team improved last year,” he told Crash.net.
The British engineer feels Renault’s power unit is now on a par with Mercedes, however, concedes that Ferrari’s may be a bit ahead of the chasing pack.
“I think the competitiveness – although we saw the Ferrari steal a bit of a march – the competitiveness of the Renault engine was pretty good last year and very much in the mix with Mercedes, and Honda weren’t so far away either,” he said.
“We’ll see how we go now going into this year, but the times when PU were vastly different, which wasn’t that long ago, pretty much disappeared last year.”
McLaren shook down the MCL35 at the Circuit de Catalunya over the weekend.
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) February 17, 2020
The team has announced that Carlos Sainz will drive the car on Wednesday when pre-season testing begins before Lando Norris spends a day out on track on Thursday.
The two will share the driving duties on day three.