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McLaren upbeat as Renault confident of engine gains

Written by  Feb 11, 2018

McLaren is increasingly upbeat about the potential they have with Renault this season, as the French manufacturer expects strong gains from their engine.

The British team is anticipating a major leap up the grid in 2018, potentially joining Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes at the front of the field after ditching Honda following another very difficult year last season.

Though Renault has continued to lag behind their German and Italian rivals since the start of the hybrid era in 2014, they ended work early on their power unit and have focussed on addressing their weaknesses with the latest specification.

"There are no alarm bells ringing," McLaren executive director Zak Brown told Autosport. "They seem to be very confident - although it is best that they talk about the specifics.

"In terms of power and reliability, they are happy with where they are at and what has been happening on the dyno. Specifically the reliability, they think they are on top of it."

The latter is important after the flurry of problems which saw the two Red Bull teams running low on parts in the final races and particularly as the limit on engines allowed before penalties is dropping to three and two in the case of some elements.

"Last year they had the power and it was when they turned it up that the reliability issues kicked in," Brown continued. "So they had their issues in Mexico but they also dominated the race, so we are feeling good."

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McLaren has overcome the challenge of adapting their car for the different layout of the Renault engine and has highlighted the difference in "experience" as one area it has a major advantage over Honda.

However, the Woking outfit is dependent on them getting it right with managing director Cyril Abiteboul conceding it will be a few years before McLaren can influence the engine design.

"We developed a complete power unit before working with McLaren, so it's not like with Honda, where Honda was dependent upon McLaren - we have the whole parameters of the power unit under our responsibility," he said.

"I think we will take it step by step. We want to be very pragmatic. Clearly, for 2018 and even 2019, it's very late for McLaren to have any influence on the hardware of the engine.

"Having said that, we want to be humble. We accept that we can improve our product, that we have to improve our product, and we will be open to their suggestion," Abiteboul added.

"Therefore, we can have a different and more connected way of working together for the medium to long-term future but it's not something for before 2020 in my opinion."

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