Renault Director of Operations Remi Taffin maintains that having Red Bull remain on board as a customer will strengthen its chances on its return to F1 as a constructor, despite the fractious relationship that developed between them last year.
Renault and Red Bull enjoyed a hugely successful collaboration during the V8 era, notching up four consecutive world titles between 2010 and 2013, but relations soured in 2014 and 2015 as the French manufacturer struggled to get a grasp on the new generation V6 Hybrid power units compared to Mercedes and Ferrari.
With Red Bull actively seeking an alternative engine supplier for this season during the latter half of 2015, Renault opted to revive its full constructor effort through the purchase of the Lotus team. However, after Red Bull couldn't agree terms with a new partner, it will continue to use Renault power in 2016 under TAG Heuer branding.
Even so, Red Bull has already fired a salvo towards Renault, with Dr Helmut Marko saying the manufacturer would be 'clever' to prioritise the Austrian team if it wants success in 2016. Despite this, Taffin plays the comments down, saying he would be saying something similar in Dr Marko's position.
“If I were Dr Marko, that's exactly what I would say,” he said. “Because he has his team and he wants the best for his team and he wants to win. Actually I would have been surprised if he had said the opposite. But this is my own judgment.
“As we want to make Renault win, at one point, we'll have to have a very good engine and if that engine is still fitted into the [Red Bull] chassis, for sure they will have a competitive package. Because we know how capable they are of producing good chassis. That'd make a good battle. I'd be happy to get a fight with Red Bull, eventually winning obviously.”
Indeed, far from there being discord between the two parties, Taffin believes Renault will benefit greatly from working with Red Bull in 2016 as it seeks to develop its underperforming power unit.
“The Red Bull engines are identical to the ones that we'll run in the Renault cars. It's always good to have a competitive customer. It's positive pressure if you take it from an engineering perspective.
“Having said that, the positive is to get a team, not whether or not we have Red Bull as a customer. Since we have a team, we can have different planning, different views on how we develop the engine through the car. It gives you that more freedom. Sometimes, you can actually sit down and look at what's going to be next year or the year after that.
“When you deliver an engine to a customer. He wants to know what he would get next. All in all, this is fair. The short answer is: having our own team will definitely help us develop our engine to make Renault win. Having Red Bull is not going to change our lives.”