Renault Confesses That the R.S.18 It Revealed Earlier Isn’t the Real Thing
According to a report, the launch photos were solely used to demonstrate the team’s new livery.
Speculation whirled around the launch of Renault's 2018 F1 competitor, aptly named the R.S. 18. Upon its reveal, few specifics were released and the car appeared to be largely unchanged from its predecessor. As it turns out, none of these tactics were on accident as team managing director Cyril Abiteboul admits that the recently-unveiled racer isn't truly representative of the car Renault will take to winter testing in Barcelona next week.
In an interview with Motorsport, Abiteboul claimed that the previous reveal was mainly intended to display the team's (somewhat) new yellow and black livery for the upcoming 21-race campaign. He denounced any reasoning behind fans trying to draw specifics from the released photos as the car will take on a totally different form for competitive action.
“To be extremely clear, the car that we showed in digital was really a presentation for the livery,” Abiteboul explained. “I have seen on forums people trying to extrapolate things from it. Well, calm down guys—don’t try to calculate the wheelbase because it will not be representative of anything!"
The Frenchman explained that Renault will be working until the closing hours to develop the true R.S.18. This is a somewhat common practice in Formula 1, and with the revised aero regulations set to take place this season, teams are still tweaking their cars to get the most out of them ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
"Like most teams, we are going to develop until the last moment, so that car is not representative of what will be shown in T9 and T10 [the first and second tests] and in Melbourne, there will be more to come." He continued, “And also there a lot of the things that are under the cover. The suspension, gearbox, engine installation, cooling—all of that has made a big, big leap in comparison to last year but that is obviously not visible.”
Renault's admitted main focus is improving engine reliability. While it must consider this for its own success, the Enstone-based manufacturer also has an expanded customer program for 2018 with both Red Bull and McLaren using Renault power units. This is an area that engineers started on early last year according to Abiteboul, and the same will continue throughout the coming season.
“We started really early in designing the first concept of the 2018 car, and started also fairly early on the engine—which is very much a carryover of last year,” he said. “Everything had to be better and more robust in terms of reliability, which has been the main focus. Really the target was to have a very healthy platform from which we could build and bring some extra performance in the season. We feel it is going to be a race for development.
“Every single time we put the car into the wind tunnel, we find more gains and there is much more to come. So it was really about making sure that we have the systems in place—particularly suspension and gearbox.
“We had so much deficit that we needed to make up in one car, so there are many things that are in that one and obviously there is more to come.”