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Reliability a top priority for Renault in 2013
27 February 2013
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.
"All the signs are good as they are now settled in their new facilities, the workforce is larger and more experienced and the budgets are completely in line with what is needed to succeed. It's going to be a really good day when we score points together!" he added.
Williams F1 might be the newest addition to the fold, but they've already found GP success together with victory in last year's European Grand Prix in Valencia with Pastor Maldonado. "We will definitely build on the strong links we recreated in 2012," Taffin said.
But the biggest issue for Renault is the change in F1's engine specifications for 2014. It means the end of the line's for this year's V8 engines, and all the engine manufacturers will be mainly focused on working hard to develop their new V6 offerings for next season.
"A key factor will be our ability to work on both 2013 and 2014 engines programmes in parallel, which is why it is crucial to have a turnkey service in place trackside," Taffin explained. "There are a few remaining tweaks we can introduce on engine mapping that will improve fuel consumption even further, but with this being the end of the V8 era we will try to make the engine as neutral as possible."
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