Renault plans to run its updated Formula 1 power unit for the first time at the in-season test that follows the Spanish Grand Prix.
The engine – which customer Red Bull hopes will be a turning point in its season – will be handed its track introduction at the two-day test on May 17-18 at Barcelona, ahead of an anticipated debut at the Canadian Grand Prix in June.
“For the test we have a full raft of things to try – new suspension, further aero updates over various areas of the car, some mods to cooling as well as evaluating the B-spec power unit, so we should have a full two days,” said Renault technical director Nick Chester.
Further developments are due on the RS16 over the course of the race weekend itself from May 13-15, in particular on Jolyon Palmer’s car.
Palmer’s rookie F1 season with Renault had been tough until a change of floor following practice on Friday at the Russian GP provided some relief.
“Jolyon was much happier in his car on Saturday in Sochi and this translated to a stronger performance over the weekend,” Chester added. “As part of our assessments to get his car to work better for him we changed the floor, which is a very important aerodynamic aspect of the car. This looks to have delivered what we wanted, so a positive step was made.
“For Spain, Jolyon will run with a new chassis – RS16-03 – which we used at our filming day [on Friday] to shake down. For the race we have an updated rear wing, as well as some updates for the front wing.”
Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul hopes the Spanish GP weekend proves to be his own team’s turning point to their first campaign back in F1 as a full-time outfit.
“Barcelona is the start of our development program and we will see some new things coming through in the race, with several others scheduled for the test afterwards,” Abiteboul said. “We look at this race as a marker in the sand: the exit point of our recovery from the takeover, and the first race as ‘our’ team. It will start small, but I’m confident we will gain momentum.”
Renault has confirmed reserve driver Esteban Ocon will run in his first FP1 outing of the year on Friday in Spain, with Palmer making way. Last year’s GP3 champion, who is dovetailing his F1 duties with a campaign in the DTM this year for Mercedes, will also take part in the test alongside Kevin Magnussen.