Renault's chief technical officer Bob Bell says he is already enthralled by the prospect of a competitive midfield pack for the 2016 F1 season as the French manufacturer prepares for its return as a fully-fledged team.
After an intense pre-season testing schedule Bell says Renault is satisfied with its progress from Barcelona but would have liked to been able to give Jolyon Palmer more running time in the RS16 as his track time was halted due to mechanic breakdowns.
As is traditionally the case at pre-season testing many of the teams were hesitant to gauge where they may slot into the 2016 grid without knowing each other's true potential and while Bell agreed Mercedes and Ferrari would be at the front he is intrigued to see how the midfield pack with fall.
“I think it will be an interesting season in midfield although it is very difficult to judge where people are at the minute,” Bell said. “But it will be close and that is great, good for the sport.”
Assessing Renault's package Bell is confident it will iron out any mechanical issues before reaching Australia for the season opener and feels its new power unit is an impressive step up on last year's effort.
“The engine, in the works team, has been great - we had one issue early in the test where we changed a turbo but it wasn't a huge surprise to us, a known fault that won't be there for the race-spec engines,” he said. “Other than that, the engine, physically, has been great.
“We just haven't had those troubles - Viry-Chatillon has done a great job over the winter making the engine driveable and there is real performance in that that doesn't show in headline figures, so they've got reliability and they've got a big step forward in what the engine actually delivers.
“We are in pretty good shape. We didn't have an excessive checklist because we didn't have a large number of development items to bring here. The car that we have here is pretty much what we'll run in Melbourne.
“There are some pieces that will arrive there so that part of the programme wasn't particularly difficult to get through and, actually, we were very pleasantly surprised that, even though the car is clearly down on overall headline performance numbers, downforce and, probably, engine power for example, it actually runs very well.”