Renault is highly unlikely to bring the race debut of its upgraded Formula 1 engine forward to the Monaco Grand Prix even if it performs well in this week’s test.
The expectation had long been that the eagerly awaited new power unit’s first event would be next month’s Canadian GP. But Renault recently revealed it would be tried in the coming week’s Barcelona test.
Customer Red Bull’s strong performance in Spanish GP qualifying then led to speculation the engine might appear in Monaco, where the RB12 chassis is likely to be very competitive.
Asked about the possibility of Renault’s plans being brought forward, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: “That really depends on Renault. If there is a possibility to do so then we will look at it, but we need to wait and see.”
Renault Sport managing director Cyril Abiteboul expressed caution over how worthwhile a Monaco debut for the engine would be.
“First and foremost we want to make sure we have all the green lights, and that is only something that may or may not happen during the test,” said Abiteboul. “That refers to reliability, driveability, cooling, everything. That is what testing is there for, and it’s very fortunate we have the test next week.
“Secondly, the problem we have with Monaco is that it is a less power-sensitive track, and we would not want to bring that upgrade and… not underperform, but have people question what the difference is.”
He argued bringing a more powerful but potentially less refined engine to Monte Carlo could be counterproductive.
“Around Monaco it is actually not going to make a big difference because Monaco is more a track where you need perfect driveability,” Abiteboul said. “When you introduce a new spec of engine you are always not perfect in terms of driveability. So we could have more power, but in terms of laptime it might not be something as good as we have now because of the driveability and the power sensitivity.
“What we are chasing is not power, but lap time, so that is the tipping point we have to analyze and we will do that right after the test.”
Asked to sum up the likelihood of it being introduced in Monaco, Abiteboul replied: “It’s a very slim chance.”