Renault is convinced that reliability will be a strong point in its 2015 F1 title bid, despite having been able to upgrade its engine over the winter.
The French marque intends to continue developing the power unit throughout 2015, despite admitting to having used most of its 'tokens' in the build up to the new campaign, but is confident that dependability will be a strong suit as Red Bull and Toro Rosso look to move back up the pecking order after relatively difficult 2014 programmes.
“We have made lots of changes to the power unit across all areas from last year,” recently-appointed director of operations Remi Taffin confirmed, “We won't go into specifics about each and every part we have changed, but we will arrive in Melbourne with a very different engine to last year.”
With only four engines allowed per driver in 2015, reliability will play a big part in determining results, and Taffin is certain the regie has everything in hand.
“Admittedly, last year, our reliability record was not the best we could have hoped for, but we worked very hard in this area and made some real improvements on reliability in the second part of the year,” he continued, “In fact, we already had 2015 in mind last year as we ran all parts to the life expected this season. That is, instead of running for the distance demanded by a five-per-year cycle, we tested them based on a four-per-year cycle, or 20 per cent more than required. Even though we pushed the parts harder than they needed to go last year, it gave us the starting point for 2015.
“Having just four units to play with this year certainly gives us less flexibility and when a part has an issue it will be a lot more difficult to use again. However we feel prepared knowing that the parts have been running to the lifecycle needed for some time with few issues.”
With Caterham seemingly done as an F1 entity, and Lotus have opted to switch to Mercedes power for 2015, Renault finds itself supporting just the two Red Bull-owned teams, but Taffin even sees that as an advantage.
“With two teams this year, we have been able to allocate resources in a more effective way,” he explained, “Each team will have a track support leader overseeing the engine engineers and technicians – one more person than previously.
“In the past, the track support leader would also run a car but, this year, his role will be to make sure the entire operation at the track works as well as possible rather than specifically look after one driver. This effectively frees them to look at all areas of the power unit and performance as a whole. The two track support leaders will also be able to share information between themselves, doubling the data we have per session and, in theory, moving forward at a much quicker rate.”
Operations at the factory in Viry-Chatillon have also been modified for the 2015 season, with Taffin revealing that links between there and the race teams should be improved.
“In the past assembly, dynos and track operations were linked, but essentially separate departments,” he noted, “Now they will be regrouped under the banner of operations to create a seamless link between factory and track.
“From the arrival of the parts, through to inspection, assembly, dyno testing and then running on track, one department will be responsible. Accordingly, resources have been reallocated based on our updated priorities, allowing us to homogenise and optimise our decisions and subsequent actions.
“F1 is a fast-paced industry and having one department running operations streamlines everything. When decisions need to be taken, they can be made much quicker, and we will be able to allocate budget and resources to implement them. The framework was already there, but we have just trimmed things down and rationalised the structure. We should therefore be able to respond faster to requests and requirements, which will in turn bring greater reliability and performance from our technology.”
Toro Rosso is scheduled to unveil its 2015 contender later today [Saturday], with Red Bull due to follow suit ahead of the start of pre-season testing at Jerez on Sunday.