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Renault reckon they've halved the gap to Mercedes but aren't targeting wins just yet

French manufacturer insist they're getting closer to F1 pacesetters but think race wins will only be possible towards the end of season

Image: Closing the gap: Daniel Ricciardo in Red Bull's Renault-powered RB11

Renault’s Remi Taffin believes that they have halved their engine efficiency deficit to Mercedes, but isn’t predicting any race wins until late in 2015.

The Mercedes hybrid unit was the class of the field in 2014 as the works team romped to a dominant Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship double, while the powerplant also helped Williams in their return to the front of the grid.

By contrast, Renault were blamed for the majority of Red Bull’s woes as they fell from grace; however,Taffin believes good progress has been made over the winter.

“We had a target to go on top of our gap so I am not going to display any numbers. But we have gone onto our target which was to half the gap to Mercedes,” Taffin, the French manufacturer’s director of operations, said.

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“We tried to put ourselves somewhere to be closer to start the position and I think we will try to be closer at the end of the season when we will try to win races.

“There won’t be any fuel saving this year, it is purely based on efficiency and the power unit will be more efficient.”

Renault Sport enlisted the help of Ilmor Engineering over the winter to assist with their engine development, which, unlike last year, they can pursue throughout the season.

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Ilmor co-founder Mario Illien is a close associate of outgoing Red Bull designer Adrian Newey but Taffin insisted the decision was not forced on them.

“They’ve got some knowledge and we’ve actually used them to try to be quicker, and in how we can explore this power unit,” he said. “It’s a Renault-driven thing.”

Daniil Kvyat
Image: Ricciardo's new team-mate Daniil Kvyat during pre-season testing

Taffin also said that Renault are against another radical change to the engine rules in the near future. Last week, the Formula 1 Commission rejected a proposal to change the current V6 turbo formula until 2017 at least.

Red Bull have been among those to back more powerful 1,000bhp engines featuring twin turbos and more standard parts, but their partners would prefer to keep things as they are.

“Renault would first prefer to try to keep the same spirit of the regulations because we’ve spent years now working on that engine,” Taffin added.

“It’s fair to say we’ve spent a lot of energy doing this. To us, it wouldn’t be a shame but it would be difficult and not really efficient to go to a completely different technology.”

The pre-season lap and KM completed by each team
Image: The pre-season lap and KM completed by each team

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