Renault has confirmed it will attempt to make its much vaunted engine upgrade available for the Monaco Grand Prix, a race earlier than originally planned.
The French manufacturer, which also supplies the Red Bull Racing team, has spent much of the 2016 season working on a 'B-spec' power unit to replace the current engine, which is regarded as only a minor modification over the upgrade it introduced in the closing stages of last season.
Having initially intended to bring the upgrade to the Canadian Grand Prix, a reliable first trial during post-Spanish Grand Prix testing has persuaded Renault to try and make the upgrade available for the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix instead.
“The current power unit used since Australia has had several smaller upgrades and all the drivers were very happy with the standard in Spain,” said Renault technical direction Remi Taffin. “In parallel, we've been working on the new spec since the start of the season but needed to sign off all the parts for reliability and mileage before using on track.
“The tests were very positive and showed it to be more powerful and driveable. We had originally planned to use the new version in Canada when the current units are scheduled to be removed from the cycle, but if we can get the units together and completely validated by Monaco we will use the ones available at this race.”
Though the new power unit is expected to bring gains in raw performance, an area the Renault engine has lagged compared with rivals Mercedes and Ferrari, particular emphasis has been paid to improving driveability.
Though this focus is expected to prove a particular benefit to Red Bull Racing with its honed chassis, Renault F1 team principal Frederic Vasseur is confident it will also have the effect of giving the factory outfit a notable boost.
“We are very pleased with the progress made,” he said. “We had two important aspects we worked on. The first was on the power unit side of things. We were pleased because we did 227 laps without any reliability issues. Additionally, we made progress on the driveability, an important aspect also. Performance-wise, we are equally happy with the steps made.
“Looking at the chassis, we had a good list of things to test and that was in itself encouraging. These tests were very constructive and it was good to see the work done at the factory put on the car and be very positive on track. That's encouraging and motivating for all. We now need to introduce these evolutions as soon as possible starting in Monaco and Canada and hope that they'll enable us to make steps up in the pecking order.”