Renault focusing on eliminating 2022 issues before switch to 2026 PU

Jamie Woodhouse
Fernando Alonso driving the Alpine. Mexico City, October 2022.

Alpine's Fernando Alonso during FP1 of the Mexican Grand Prix. Mexico City, October 2022.

Should the 2023 Renault power unit prove to be more stable, then the plan is for resources to be shifted mainly to the 2026 PU.

The Renault power unit is used exclusively by Alpine in Formula 1, and though the new version for 2022 proved to be a step forward in performance, reliability issues meant that securing P4 in the Constructors’ Championship was a harder job than it should have been for Alpine.

It was by design though that Renault went for performance over reliability, as a freeze in engine performance is now in force for the remainder of the cycle for these PUs, with new designs then coming into play for 2026.

Manufacturers can still though work to make their power units more reliable, which is the focus of Renault ahead of the 2023 campaign.

And if Renault are successful in that quest, then engine boss Bruno Famin says the focus can then shift to the 2026 regulations.

“We first have to make sure that problems don’t recur,” said Famin, as per Auto Motor und Sport. “Then we mostly switch to the development of the 2026 engine.

“We’ve been working on that for a few months already. Initially on the basis of the draft regulations. In the meantime, there is something like a final version.”

Renault took inspiration from Mercedes with their 2022 power unit as they opted for a split-turbo design, with the turbine on one side of the engine and compressor on the other.

And although their aggressive pursuit of performance meant not all the desired testing could be completed, Famin nonetheless is very happy with the results of this split-turbo design.

“We took a lot of risks,” said Famin. “We tried to get the engine as light as possible. We pushed the development as long as possible until just before the season. That meant we couldn’t do certain loops in the review.

“The split turbo is the best proof of our new approach. This allowed us to improve the packaging, which led to significantly improved aerodynamics.”

Also a main goal for the manufacturer has been to strengthen the unity between their Enstone chassis base, and the engine HQ in Viry.

Famin believes good progress has been made, with the next step now being to make the two departments work together more efficiently.

“It’s not about aero performance on the one hand and engine performance on the other, we only think about the overall performance of the car,” said Famin.

“All decisions about the car are made in such a way that we score as many points as possible.

“The first step was closer integration with Enstone. In this regard, we have reached a good level of integration. The second step is to simplify the processes and make them more efficient.”

For example, Famin explained how he feels the power unit could be modified further to benefit the chassis team at Enstone, thus making the power unit more efficient without making pure performance upgrades.

“There’s no real scope for squeezing out more power, you can’t improve the engine’s performance with the regulations,” said Famin.

“We can influence the performance of the car by making changes to the engine. One way to do this is with the packaging.

“For example, we can modify the intake line or the exhaust tract so that our colleagues in Enstone can knit better aerodynamics around it.”

There is also another potential alteration in mind.

“If you make changes to the piston rings and make them stronger, you can move the knock limit,” Famin added.

One of the main concerns with the engine performance freeze was the potential for it to lock in a disadvantage for certain manufacturers.

However, Famin believes that the performance level of each power unit has converged, so he has no concerns about performance deficits.

“The performance gap has been closed,” he said, as per Motorsport-Magazin.com. “I don’t think there are any significant differences in the power units in the field anymore.

“The gap between the best and the worst power unit has been cut in thirds or quarters compared to last year. We are very happy with that.”

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