Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Spa-Francorchamps, 2018

Renault: New engine “significantly more powerful” but less reliable

2018 Italian Grand Prix

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Renault has admitted its new C-spec power unit may be less reliable than the previous version but claims it offers a “significant” gain in performance.

The new power unit is available to the factory team and its two customers but only Red Bull will use it at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

The team’s engine technical director Remi Taffin described the new version as “an evolution of the current B Spec engine” which is “significantly more powerful” than its predecessor.

“Conversely, it’s possibly not as reliable as the current generation, hence the different choices made by each team. Depending on fuel used, the power gain is in the order of 0.3s per lap in qualifying on a circuit like Monza, which is a substantial step forward.”

Taffin said Red Bull will use the new engine “because they are in a position to prioritise performance without having to worry about those behind them in the championship.”

“For our part and McLaren, we will not be using this specification, because reliability and consistency are the essential assets to reach our end-of-season goals.”

Renault remains the only one of the three teams to be using the current specification of MGU-K. “McLaren and Red Bull Racing did not want to make the needed changes for its integration,” said Taffin. “They have opted to take and assume this clearly identified reliability risk.”

The team has produced a special version of the previous MGU-K due to problems experienced by its customers. “To respond to the demands expressed after the incident with Max Verstappen’s car that saw him retire in Hungary, we have developed an evolution of the version used by our two customers to reinforce its sturdiness,” said Taffin.

With Nico Hulkenberg carrying a 10-place grid penalty into this weekend’s race due to the crash he caused at Spa, Taffin admitted it’s “tactically interesting” for the team to use the opportunity to fit a new power unit to the car in the hope he can then finish the season without needing a further unit and consequent penalty.

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Keith Collantine
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  • 29 comments on “Renault: New engine “significantly more powerful” but less reliable”

    1. Taffin said Red Bull will use the new engine “because they are in a position to prioritise performance without having to worry about those behind them in the championship.”

      I’m slightly confused – if this new engine goes ‘boom’ at Monza, doesn’t that mean they end up taking penalties at Singapore – a track where the RBR can take the fight to Mercedes and Ferrari?

      1. If they will use the new one they can fall back to the old one for Singapore. Assuming that the old one is still healthy and that by fitting the new one they won’t have penalties for Monza

        1. @johnmilk
          Can the use the new power unit on Friday at Monza, and use the old power unit for Saturday and Sunday? That way they can take the penalty at Monza and use the new power unit for Singapore?

          1. @todfod I’m not sure. I think last year that was something that teams could do, but with the power unit allocation for 2018 I don’t know

            Let me try to summon @keithcollantine

          2. @todfod – IIRC, the loophole that was closed (as alluded to by @johnmilk ) is that the penalty is taken at the race weekend where the new components are used. So you cannot bank/accrue penalties for multiple numbers of the same component at one weekend. So running a new PU on only the Friday will not result in a penalty on the Sunday, it will occur when the new PU is raced.

            1. @phylyp
              I’m not sure that’s the case.. Because .. Then I could use an unlimited number of power units on Fridays throughout the season. I’ll keep the allocated power units just for quali and raceday, and to reduce the wear and tear on those, I’ll have both Friday FP sessions with a different, or new, power unit every race weekend.

            2. @todfod – Here’s the relevant bit from the summarized regs on

              During any single event, if a driver introduces more than one of a power unit element that is subject to a grid penalty, only the last element fitted may be used at subsequent events without further penalty.

              So what you describe seems possible – using a new PU for only FP1 & FP2, and never for a race. Someone who is better versed in the regulations can clarify if this is indeed the case.

            3. Miroslav Hržica
              29th August 2018, 7:21

              As I understand it:
              at first use of 4th component driver gets penalty
              if he uses 5th element in same weekend 4th element can not be used in future

              If that rule was in place when Hamilton used 3 new PU at Spa he would have only one PU for future races – the sam he used for qualy and race

            4. The regulation Phylyp referenced means this: if you fit a new engine for Friday practice, then fit a second new engine for the race, you have a 20 grid spot penalty but only get to bank one engine. That was the loophole Mercedes abused at one race. So let’s say you’ve already introduced two engines to your pool. You introduce a new engine on a Friday, but it blows up so you introduce another engine on Saturday. That’s only your third engine, so no grid penalty. However, you SUDDENLY got delivery of a new-spec engine and want to run it this weekend, so you install it before qualifying. You now have a 10-place grid penalty. If you then decide to install ANOTHER new-spec engine, only the newest engine can be added to the pool.

              So in theory, if you’re willing to take a grid penalty at multiple events, you can actually add engines to your pool at a rate of once a race, if I’m not mistaken.

    2. At first a 10 positions grid penalty sounds a little weak but acceptable, since Nico didn’t have many incident points on his license. But some circumstances will make this penalty have no effect:

      – Monza is a place where most team don’t seem to mind taking penalties as you don’t get stuck behind slow cars.
      – Renault would probably fail to make top 10 in Q, so with only 20 cars on the grid a 10 places penalty would not be REALLY 10 places for him.
      – They can fit new PU parts, stacking all the penalties at Monza (no effect as he is set to start last anyway) and saving him from taking these penalties later on at a track where the penalties where he could get stuck behind slower cars.

      One could say these circumstances are not the stewards’ problem, others could say 10 places grid penlaty is a YOKE!

      1. Not to mention monza is a power track so any engine performance improvement directly makes the car faster.

    3. Interesting little disclaimer regarding “depending on fuel used” of course, Red Bull, the only team with the new engine won’t be using the “correct” fuel as previously stated therefore won’t be seeing the full .3s increase :P It’ll be interesting to see none the less. Hopefully this will get them closer to joining the fight with Merc/Ferrari.

      1. I shared the exact thoughts when I read the disclaimer.

      2. Could Red Bull’s fuel be better than Renault’s, and actually yield more than 0.3s from the new engine? I don’t really have a clue, whether it’s possible or not.

        1. Possible, but unlikely, RBRs fuel supplied needs to book in time on the Renault dyno to test their products which they seem to have difficulty doing, and I doubt at this stage Renault are handing over the full tech specs over to RBR for either themselves or their supplier to utilise.

        2. Renault are making the engine specifically for their fuel as well, to optimise what their fuel will do for them, adding to what Ross has said.

      3. Lots of disclaimers at Renault.
        They already have there asses covered it seems..
        Starting a production of an unreliable engine.. does not show strength.

        1. I’d rather they produce a powerful unreliable engine than the opposite. They have time to develop reliability, seemingly no new engine till at least 2023 so there’s still a decent amount of time left in this round of tech specs, even the next engine won’t be a huge step outside the current setup. As heartbreaking as it would be I’d rather see Max and Dan fighting with he top contenders for 30-40 laps before a failure than see them just hanging out in dead zone between the big two and the rest.

          1. They have time to develop reliability,

            They did not succeeded during three years now. A lot of time but no succes.

        2. Michael Brown (@)
          29th August 2018, 1:05

          Red Bull might have chosen the right time to go for Honda.

    4. Makes sense to me to use this, at least for Red Bull. They are set in terms of championship standing, but if this engine adds variance to their results, they might pick up a few victories at the expense of a few retirements, from races that would have been more stable 5-6 results. I’d take a win and a failure over two 5th places. I’m exaggerating a bit, but that’s the gist of it I surmise.

    5. No wonder they wanted Dan Ric, starting at the back and then moving forward is something he has a lot of practice at, even with a less powerful engine.

    6. I’m actually a bit amused by the “less reliable” given that Renault’s PU is already the least reliable. And they think it could be worse?

      1. Honda is, check the parts allocation list.

        1. Honda changed a lot of parts just to test new components. And a couple of engines were destroyed in crashes (remember Hartleys practice crash in spain). I think Honda had only one or two genuine engine failures

    7. OK, now let’s hope we won’t see anymore comments about Ferrari having the best engine, ’cause Renault just reckoned they unleashed the super-whammy engine!

      1. 0.3 seconds faster than an engine that was 0.6 behind to start with. Yeh good one.

    8. We all seem to misunderstand him.. he means 0,3 second quicker blowup time.

    9. This is just Renault over promising again. Everytime they bring an update they say it’s gonna bring .3-.4-.5 of a second. But when push comes to shove it only turns out to be 0.05 or maybe 0.1 of a second. they’ve been over promising and under delivering for years now/

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