Renault F1 advisor Alain Prost says the French manufacturer will continue its focus on car development and performance gains rather than climbing the Formula 1 world constructors’ championship next season.

Renault’s late season surge, aided by taking Carlos Sainz Jr on loan for the final four races of the year, saw it leapfrog Toro Rosso into sixth place in the teams’ standings and grab the vital extra prize money for 2018. While Prost accepts moves were made to benefit the team's short term outlook, Renault will revert back to its long term goal in 2018 of returning to the title-contending pack.

Prost accepts the top three teams of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull are unlikely to be drastically reshuffled in 2018 and while the minimum of fourth place in the 2018 F1 world constructors’ championship remains its target he has urged the focus to be on development and building for the future.

“I always said it was going to be slower [development] than people think, maybe slower maybe better, but you don’t want to go [higher] because there is no point,” Prost told Sky Sports F1. “You can see on the engine side this year we have improved but maybe nobody saw it – it was better than we thought.

“When you improve too much you can have a reliability problem. It was not the same on the chassis side but we have acquired a lot of people, especially on the aerodynamics side, to give the maximum, in my opinion, not next year but in two years.

“Next year the point is to make another big progression and not only in terms of ranking because you can still finish fourth and be two seconds a lap slower than the Mercedes and Ferrari. That wouldn’t be positive so we need to catch them.”

Since exiting F1 as a fully-fledged manufacturer entry at the end of 2011, Renault maintained its interest in the sport as engine supplier before acquiring the cash-strapped Lotus squad in 2016. After a solid but unspectacular return ended in ninth place in the world constructors’ championship Renault enjoyed impressive gains in 2017 to jump up to sixth place.

Renault has invested heavily in its F1 infrastructure this season with a step up in staff recruitment plus building developments at its Enstone headquarters.