Renault's team principal Frederic Vasseur has explained initial developments for its 2017 car have been based upon the Lotus-branded 2015 model rather than its current challenger which has been a knock-on effect from the late takeover of the Enstone-based squad.
After Renault's takeover of Lotus was only officially confirmed in late December 2015, the team has been playing catch-up for the entire 2016 campaign which has been it somewhat off the pace of the middle order and only consistently ahead of Manor and Sauber.
Vasseur says Renault's RS16 is based upon last year's Lotus-branded E23 Hybrid but has struggled to replicate its form from the previous season due to the change of power unit from Mercedes to Renault.
Last year Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado guided Lotus to sixth in the F1 world constructors' championship, with the highlight of Grosjean grabbing third place at Spa, but this season Renault languish in ninth with just a solitary points finish to its name (Kevin Magnussen's seventh in Sochi).
“Right now we are using a 2015-designed car that was built around a Mercedes engine, so when switching to a Renault engine we suffered from the very beginning,” Vasseur told Formula1.com
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With Renault believed to be one the first teams to switch focus to next year ahead of the regulations revamp, having declared a mid-term goal of returning to the podium within three years
, Vasseur says its early preparations have been based upon the E23 Hybrid rather than its current challenger.
“It is a fact that we are not building the 2017 car based on the 2016 one, but on the 2015 car - and that is a lot of catching-up,” he said. “2017 holds a good opportunity for us. Right now it is a bit stressful to manage such a huge gap based on the structure that we have but we are working hard on it.”
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