Renault says the early signs from its all-new Formula 1 engine look “very promising” ahead of the 2019 season. 

The French manufacturer has developed a new power unit for the upcoming campaign in a bid to close up on the performance benchmark set by rivals Mercedes and Ferrari. 

Last season Renault recorded its best result since returning to F1 as a full works outfit in 2016 with fourth place in the constructors’ standings, while the squad has prized Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull to lead its 2019 charge alongside team regular Nico Hulkenberg

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“We’re very optimistic on the engine side,” said executive director Marcin Budkowski when asked by how the development on Renault’s new engine design was going. 

“But the engine is like the chassis side - it’s never finished until you close the engine that goes to the first race. 

“It is very promising in terms of performance but we still have to cross the t’s and dot the i’s in terms of reliability and durability etc, which we are doing now in Viry-Chatillon. 

“We are still doing work on the engines that will start the year, and in the end  performance and reliability is a trade-off. You can extract more performance from any engine but it might not last the number of races, the number of sessions you want it to. 

“So we will have to see where that cursor stops in terms of performance versus reliability. But we are optimistic.” 

Budkowski admitted Renault is keeping tabs on Red Bull’s progress with new power unit supplier Honda and sees an opportunity to capitalise should the move backfire. 

Definitely any kind of shake-up is an opportunity,” he said. “It’s a threat as well. We are making progress on our engine development. 

“I’m sure Honda, Mercedes and Ferrari are all making progress as well. In relative terms, we’ll see where they end up.” 

Renault 2019 F1 car all-new bar power steering

Budkowski also revealed that Renault’s 2019 challenger is a completely new design, with only the power steering system used last year being carried over, in a renewed push to find added performance. 

“It’s always challenging to get a car out,” Budkowski explained. “There’s thousands and thousands of parts that we have to do. 

“The only thing we carried over from last year’s car is the power steering. That gives you an idea that all of the rest is changing and it’s changing because we are trying to squeeze more performance from every area. 

“It takes a big effort to do everything from scratch, and with the regulations, but at the end of the day it is a performance goal. 

“The later you leave it the more performance you have but the more stressful it is to get it out on time.” 

Renault has passed the mandatory FIA crash tests ahead of its season launch event at its Enstone base on February 12 - in which it will unveil its 2019 F1 car ahead of pre-season testing which begins in Barcelona the following week. 

When asked if everything is on target ahead of testing, Budkowski replied: “It’s tight. It’s very tight. 

“It’s always tight and if it wasn’t it would be wrong because by definition you leave everything as late as possible to try to get as much performance as you can before you commit to manufacturing the parts and getting them onto the car. 

“We’ve left it late and hopefully it’s because of the right reasons in terms of performance and we are going to get a car in time for the first test and the launch but that’s how it should be.”