Renault has started the 2018 season relatively well, collecting points often in a closely contested midfield scrap. The team has set a 2020 target to catch the top three teams in F1 but at the moment, that’s looking like a very long way off.
One of the aims of the much talked about cost cap is to cut this gap and move away from what is a clear two-tiered formula. Renault’s technical director Bob Bell is happy with how the team are doing against other midfield outfits, but seems frustrated that its ambition of becoming a front-runner seem to be unattainable. He said:
“I would say we are disappointed we are not further up, we had hoped to take a bit more lap time out of the top three teams over the winter and we haven’t. If anything they might have moved further ahead, so we are a little bit disappointed about that.
“We are still growing, we are still developing, we are still getting our methodologies right and we are still recruiting people and building facilities. I don’t want to keep singing that song as an excuse but we are not quite as mature as the top three teams are and they have still got the edge when it comes to building a new car.”
Renault is currently locked in this season’s fight for fourth against McLaren. The fight will be interesting to watch over the season, but the fact that we can call it the fight for fourth with some confidence so early on this season indicates the issue. Despite that, Bell feels Renault can develop well and close the gap as the season wears on:
“I don’t know if we could halve the gap but I think there is a reasonable chance we can start to close it because there is a law of diminishing returns and we do have an easier path to finding benefits than they do.”
The top three shouldn’t be penalised for doing an excellent job. But the argument seems to be that with resources in at least a similar ballpark, teams like Renault could probably do an excellent job too.