Monday, March 4, 2024

Renault ‘Courageous’ with Engine Development Focus but ‘Ran out of Time’ to match Rivals – Harman

Matt Harman, the Technical Director of the BWT Alpine F1 Team, says that they ran out of time to develop their Renault power unit ahead of the engine freeze in 2022 and as such are running at a power disadvantage to their rivals.

A lot of talk was said prior to the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season about the focus of Renault’s development of their power unit, with performance being prioritised over reliability, but whilst improvements were made, they were still unable to catch up to the likes of Honda, Ferrari or Mercedes-Benz.

Harman says the team were ‘courageous’ with its engine development but it was just not quite enough, and whilst they have been able to solve their reliability concerns, they have not been able to improve their power unit, even going the way of appealing to the FIA and the other teams to allow some performance improvements in a bid to gain some extra horsepower.

Although the FIA were on their side, their requests were denied by the teams and as such, the engine department is now fully focused on developing a whole new power unit that will be first used when the new regulations take effect in 2026.

“I wouldn’t say frustrating,” Harman is quoted as saying by “I think we tried. I think it’s important that we try these things. In the end, we have the technology and the capability to put the power unit where we’d like it to be, we just ran out of time on the RE22.

“We were very courageous with that engine. Okay, it’s a little bit behind where we’d like it to be. But it used to be a long way behind, and we made a big step, but we just didn’t quite get there enough.

“And we just couldn’t take any more risks than we did, it would have been nice to have it unlocked for a little while just to do that again.

“But in the end, I think it’s also important to note that we’ve got another power unit to do at the moment. That’s a big focus for the team. And that’s where we see our future.

“So I think we took a decision in the end, actually, to just focus on the future. And we’ll deal with this power unit for the next two years by trying to remove some of its parasitic losses and do everything that we can do inside the regulations.”

Harman says they did not do enough aerodynamically to reduce their deficit on the power-hungry tracks such as the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, and as such they had poor weekends where the extra power would have come in handy.

And it was only towards the end of the year, such as the Las Vegas Grand Prix, where Alpine were able to get their aero package right to counter their power deficit.

“You’ve all seen the numbers, we’ve stated the delta that we have,” Harman added. “It’s not just about the power unit deficit. If we look at Monza, and we look at how we performed there, it was not a good weekend for us.

“We didn’t expect to be there. We knew the performance delta for the power unit before we went in, but we didn’t expect to be in that position.

“And that tells you something that we just didn’t do enough on the chassis side to complement the power unit and make the best of it. And that’s something we actually learned for Las Vegas.

“We do have to make some compromises, of course, you have to re-optimise your car into a different zone. I think there’s a lot you can do. And I don’t think we did enough at some of the circuits where the power unit dominates.”