Rob White, Renault's engine chief, has admitted that the company doesn't feel its engine is as strong as some of its rivals – and insists that it isn't completely satisfied with the way the 2010 season has panned out.
White's admission comes despite the Renault-powered Red Bull team having emerged as the pace setters through the first half of the year, with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber winning five of the eleven races so far and securing pole at every circuit aside from Montreal – where Lewis Hamilton took top spot in qualifying for McLaren.
Aside from the strong performances from Vettel and Webber, Renault's Robert Kubica has taken to the podium twice, but White said the company was proud of the achievements of its engines, it wasn't totally satisfied.
“We are not fully satisfied, but we are still very proud of what we have achieved,” he replied when asked for a half-term report from Renault's engine side of things. “Renault powered cars have taken ten pole positions in eleven races; set six fastest laps; and scored twelve podium finishes, including five race wins. What's more, in Monaco, we scored our first one-two-three finish since 1997. It is rewarding for all the team at Viry who work constantly behind the scenes to achieve both performance and reliability.
“Our commitment to total equality in engine supply is reinforced by these great results. Of course, we enjoy a close relationship with Enstone for historical reasons, but we provide exactly the same engine specification and level of support to both our teams: Renault F1 Team and Red Bull Racing.”
Despite Red Bull's success this season, much has been made of the apparent weakness of the Renault engine – which had led to suggestions last season that the team could look elsewhere for its power units before an extended deal was agreed.
White conceded that he didn't feel Renault's engine is as strong as some of the others currently being used – with Mercedes being widely regarded as the strongest engine on the grid – although he admitted that it was difficult to examine how each engine performs without all units being dyno tested.
“I believe the maximum power of the Renault engine within the useful RPM range is not as good as the best of its competitors,” he said. “Analysis of observed car performance supports this conclusion but it is impossible to accurately quantify differences in engine power except by comparison of power measured on the dynamometer.
“The reasons for this deficit are historical, resulting from engine developments undertaken during successive cycles of engine homologation. Changes to the engine have been restricted by the Sporting Regulations since the 2007 season but the way in which the engine is used has changed greatly during the same period. For example, we have seen two reductions in maximum RPM, engine life has doubled, KERS was installed and removed, and refuelling has gone. These changes have been handled by “retuning” the engines and by allowing limited modifications.