Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul says as his team’s focus is centred on 2021’s shake-up it must withstand “short term pressure” over this season and next year.

Heading into 2019 Renault had impressively moved up the F1 pecking order since returning to the sport as a fully-fledged constructor in 2016 having gone from ninth place in its first year to fourth place and ‘best of the rest’ in 2018.

But having dropped behind customer team McLaren this season with fifth place in the F1 world constructors’ championship, pressure for results has increased on the French manufacturer in order to maintain its progress.

Team principal Cyril Abiteboul accepts 2019 hasn’t lived up to expectations and anticipates similar challenges next year given the stable regulations giving little room to make significant gains against rivals.

But with F1 bracing for a rules overhaul from 2021, Renault has tailored its preparations to take advantage in a similar way to Mercedes which devoted greater resources and development for the switch to the V6 Hybrid era in 2014 leading to its era of ongoing domination.

“Everything in our programme has been built around that long-term target of 2021 because, in accordance to our strategy, that’s really the first opportunity to make that happen,” Abiteboul said. “But before 2021, there is 2019, there is 2020.

“And there is a short term result and a short term pressure that everyone is putting on all of us. And that’s fine. Again, that’s part of the sport.”

Reflecting on Renault’s 2019, finishing in fifth place and 54 points behind McLaren with the highlight of a double top five at the Italian Grand Prix, the Renault chief feels the difficulties his team has faced provide key lessons for the future.

“There’s been many tough moments. There’s been good moments also. I think it’s important to take a bit of distance, so if you ask me, it’s really to manage, to learn about the resilience that you need in that sport,” he said. “Sometimes people believe how difficult it is as a sport, as a business also, given the difficulty and the way that the world is changing. We are on a ramp up.

“The difficulty first is to maintain that P4 position now that McLaren has been able to come back from where they were before. The main difficulty will be not to stay P5 or P4 because we should not be content with that but to bridge the gap with the top teams. That will be the next difficulty and still the target for us. It’s a target for 2021.”

Next season will mark the final year of the McLaren-Renault partnership with the Woking-based team switching to Mercedes engines from 2021.