As head of track operations for engine supplier Renault
F1, Rémi Taffin has a lot on his mind and even more calls on his time as the teams prepare for the 2013 season.
Renault supplies engines to four of the 11 teams on the F1 starting grid, including world champions Red Bull
as well as Lotus, Williams
and Caterham. That's a lot of plates to keep spinning, but Taffin is just fine with the pressure that this brings to the manufacturer.
"We want every team we supply to be a potential race-winning team," he insisted this week.
When it comes to delivering actual race wins, the Red Bull
team is currently head and shoulders above the others. "We share the same fighting spirit," said Taffin, when asked to explain what it was that made this particular partnership quite so stunningly successful. "We like them to push us and we are always proud to answer quickly and efficiently to their requests.
"It is even more rewarding when we are able to propose new solutions to make the car faster," he added.
But not even Red Bull
has enjoyed total success in the past 12 months, with a new alternator system from Renault
seemingly proving to be a particular Achilles heel in last year's championship run. "Unfortunately, one area we could do better in is reliability," Taffin agreed. "We have looked long and hard at every single part and every single procedure to seek the last percentile from each.
"We need to secure our reliability to get back to a normal situation and then we will be able to push the limits again," he continued. "Purely technically, we have worked solidly through the winter to sign off different fixes for our main 2012 reliability issues."
Renault's longest relationship in the paddock has been with Lotus, and so Taffin was pleased to see them finally back on top with Kimi Raikkonen's win in the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November.
"Rather than returning to winning ways, I think it is normal to see Lotus winning and we will keep on supporting them in the same way," said Taffin. "In fact we didn't change our working pattern after Renault
left the team to [new owners] Genii. Obviously we still have a very close relationship with the Enstone-based team and we always welcome their new ideas and help them as much as we can."
Renault's relationship with Caterham goes back two full seasons now, and Taffin is hopeful that it will soon bear some real fruit in terms of championship points in 2013.
"We work very efficiently with Caterham and it is difficult to see a big difference with the bigger teams, operationally speaking," he said. "Obviously the cars fielded by teams are always different but we trust Caterham to score their first points this year.