Renault: Championship battles will make switching to 2021 car a 'game of chicken'

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Tight Formula 1 championship battles this season will make deciding when to switch focus to 2021 a "game of chicken", Renault claim.

This year, teams will have to balance two different development projects simultaneously with the 2020 car and the all-new design coming for next season.

The big call, however, is when to end this year's program in the hope of getting a jump on your rivals next year, and Renault executive director Marcin Budkowski says that decision is fraught with risk.

"I think it is going to be a big dilemma for everybody," he told Motorsport.

“We have a plan, I am sure everybody has, and that plan is to shorten development into the season. It is not less development it is just more concentrated development.

“It is easy to say this now because the season hasn’t started, but at the front, it could be quite interesting if the top three are fighting for the championship and it’s going to be a close fight.

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"It is going to be interesting seeing who pulls the plug first and jumps to 2021. Are Ferrari, for example, willing to switch earlier and take a risk that another team will win?" he pondered.

“To be honest it is the same throughout the field. If it is a close fight for fourth, it is going to be a game of chicken about who blinks first, and who transitions first.

"But I think it is important we [Renault] don’t get distracted because 2021 is such a big challenge and the margin of progression on the new set of rules is big.”

Indeed, despite concerns aired about next year's technical regulations, the Renault chief still sees the possibility for an advantage by switching focus earlier.

“There has been a lot of talk about ‘are these rules too restrictive?’, and yes, they are more restrictive than now and I think that is intentional to make sure that the championship is more competitive," Budkowski said.

“But at the start of a new set of regulations your development rate is massive and we are seeing this. We see a lot of opportunities to gain performance, so if you transition too late you are going to be in trouble for 2021.

“The reality is we will have to understand, by doing more 2021 development, how much potential there is and where we sit in 2020. I think every team will assess this and make their own choices. It can be interesting to watch.”

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