Renault believes it is "losing a lot less to the fastest cars" at this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix as it makes progress with its power unit.

The engine manufacturer has faced a tough start to the new season as power units issues affecting running for all four of its teams during pre-season testing. A lack of top speed has been particularly evident in the opening three races, but head of track operations Remi Taffin believes Renault has made significant progress in that area thanks to the in-season test in Bahrain last week.

"The progress made back in the dynos at Viry, which was then corroborated on track at the test in Bahrain, has proved to be very useful and we appear to have consolidated our findings here [in practice], allowing the teams to fully focus on their own run plans," Taffin said. "Thanks to the software upgrades and some performance items, on a power sensitive track we are losing a lot less to the fastest cars.

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"While it's still a way off it does show we are going in the right direction. Likewise, the improvements in energy management and energy recovery have been well applied here and we've noticed an improvement in traction and grip, particularly in the slow corners such as T1 and the hairpins.

"Overall [Friday was] a productive day that has confirmed some steps forward. There are obviously still some more to come but from the longer runs conducted we expect to be closer in race trim, which is what counts for points after all."