Renault’s managing director Cyril Abiteboul admits Renault pushed too hard during the winter, to the point where it had to use new methods to follow what he described as a “ferocious” development race started by Red Bull.
“We had last-minute developments on the engine that by-passed our usual validation process, notably the test bench,” he said in an interview with L’Equipe.
“And these changes caused problems at Melbourne. This is what we will focus on upon returning to the factory before heading to Sepang.”
He added: “We were very aggressive because Red Bull has taken us on a ferocious race in development.
“We have to ask ourselves questions as to how we have proceeded with them so far, and forgetting our traditional methods.
“We’ve been producing F1 engines for 37 years now. We know what to do.”
Abiteboul insists the way Renault turned things around last year shows that it is still possible to have a strong season, even though he has ruled out beating Mercedes on pure performance.
“Last year, if I said we would win three races, you would have laughed. Will we win races due to outright performance? No. But it can come back just as quickly as it left. However, fighting wheel to wheel with Mercedes won’t happen right away.”
When asked about the difficult period the Red Bull/Renault partnership is going through, he said: “We’ve won together and today we’re not comfortable together. Up until now, we’ve followed them, and listened to them. Perhaps today they are realising that there are different universes between chassis and engine and that everyone must do their part.”