Alain Prost says it is a “good surprise” to see how much of a step Renault has made this season with its engine.
Renault has struggled to develop a competitive V6 turbo since the new formula was adopted two year ago, but has made strides this year, with Max Verstappen and Red Bull winning in Spain last month with the TAG Heuer badged unit, while Daniel Ricciardo could well have won in Monaco last weekend too, if not for a pit stop blunder.
“Yes, I think everyone can be a bit surprised [by the step],” Prost confirmed, “because it has been difficult racing, you know, engine and chassis, sometimes what you expect could be… maybe even more with the chassis, if you have some nice numbers in the wind tunnel and then you go on the track and you realise that it's not working exactly the same and very often it's on the negative side, never on the positive side. Here [in Monaco] with the [updated] engine, it is what we have seen, and in a way it promises, maybe, to be a little bit better. So it is quite surprising considering that the last two years were quite tough.
“But that's typical also in F1, things can change and sometimes what you get is what you are paying for, maybe a decision or no decision two or three years before, so when you are committed to something and they have always proven that they are good at making an F1 engine, there is no reason why it should be bad, so it is a good surprise, very positive.”
Prost also added that form of Red Bull Racing is very much a plus for the Renault factory team as it shows at least one element of the package is pretty much there.
“I think it is a very positive thing, honestly. It is a constructor team, so you have engine and chassis altogether, so you always have sort of a positive fight, or competition, but it can also be not very positive,” explained the Renault ambassador.
“At least you know [though] the engine is working well, and that can be very good for the people making the engines, and very good for Red Bull anyway, but I think it is positive for both of them, because then you can concentrate. It also gives a nice vision, a nice motivation for the future [for Renault's own team].
“It is almost like saying 'okay, this part is working so we can do even better then we can concentrate on the….' – there is so much work that it is good to have one element that we know is going to be okay.
“It's very positive.”