Renault needs to be in a position where it can “comfortably maintain” fourth place in the Formula 1 constructors’ championship, according to the team’s chief technical officer Bob Bell. 

The French manufacturer - entering its third season as a full works squad - has set big aims of returning to winning ways in F1 and is looking to build on the sixth-place finish it achieved in the constructors’ standings last year. 

Renault is set to be bolstered in its efforts to move up the grid in 2018 by the controversial signing of former F1 technical guru Marcin Budkowski, who will start work at the Enstone-based outfit at the beginning of April. 

“Our team is being managed for the very top in a very sensible way,” Bell said. “I suppose one way to look at it is to say we were sixth in the championship last year, we need to get ourselves into a position where we can comfortably maintain fourth place in the championship. 

“If you look at a team like Force India, they’ve been able to achieve that, so we ought to be able to do that same job with roughly similar resources. That’s clear. 

“I think until we can do that and demonstrate to Renault in particular that we’re capable of achieving that then they are not going to start writing cheques for a lot more people and resources.”

But Bell admitted Renault is not yet in a position to challenge F1's established ‘top three’ of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. 

“We have to prove ourselves at every step of the way. Once we’ve done that, then we can start having a discussion about what’s it going to take to move into the top three and take on Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, because they are another league again in terms of resources. 

“But we are prepared for that, Renault are prepared for that and so we will expand to a point where we believe is sensible to be able to consistently fight just outside the top three and be there. 

“Then that’s another step to take and another discussion on resources.”

Renault enjoyed a solid pre-season testing programme at Barcelona over the past two weeks, completing significant mileage and setting some eye-opening times with very few reliability issues. 

Bell revealed Renault’s pre-season performance expectations have been exceeded after comparing on-track results from winter testing with wind tunnel results, though he is unsure whether it will prove enough of a gain to make a significant step up the pecking order. 

“We can make a lot of measurements as all teams do and what we measure agrees - In fact it is looking slightly better than what we thought we’d see from the wind tunnel results so we are pleased about that. 

“We are where we thought we would be. Is that good enough? I don’t know. Until we get to qualifying in Melbourne  I don’t think anybody will really know.”


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