After Christian Horner accepted Renault is lacking the competitive qualifying engine mode to its Mercedes and Ferrari rivals, the French manufacturer says it is targeting gains for one-lap runs to be ready for the 2018 Formula 1 world championship.

Renault Sport F1’s managing director Cyril Abiteboul feels strong progress has been made with the French manufacturer’s power unit which was demonstrated by Max Verstappen’s victory at the Malaysia Grand Prix beating Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes.

While Abiteboul believes Renault still hasn’t achieved engine parity with Mercedes or Ferrari he is confident that could change for 2018 as it focuses on producing a qualifying mode for its engine.

“We are catching up progressively and I think the Renault power unit is actually becoming very decent in race operation, but indeed we are definitely missing something in qualifying,” Abiteboul said. “Obviously it’s always a balance running safe and being aggressive and obviously the more potential performance we have then the more capacity we will have to be aggressive on Saturdays.

“This is what’s on plan for next year, even though we believe also that the regulation will help us in bridging any sort of deficit in relation to that on Saturday.

“So it’s positive and I think it’s something that McLaren could also see and part of the decision of working with us for the next three years.”

Red Bull team principal Horner has called on Renault to unlock a new engine mode after seeing Verstappen keep pace with Hamilton during the race at Suzuka but both Red Bull drivers were one second off the pace of pole-sitter Hamilton for Mercedes in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.


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