Renault: “we hope to close this gap by half at the start of the season”

Renault claimed three wins with Red Bull in 2014 but pre-season problems put the company on the back foot, with other squads struggling for reliability and performance.

With the demise of Caterham and Lotus’ switch to Mercedes power, Renault will supply only two teams – Red Bull and Toro Rosso – in 2015, but Abiteboul is sure of an improved performance.

“We estimate that our gap to Mercedes at the end of the 2014 season was about 60 horsepower,” Abiteboul told France’s Canal+.

“We hope to close this gap by half at the start of the season in Melbourne. Unlike Mercedes, we will start the 2015 season with the 2015 version of our engine.

“To date, we have used about two-thirds of allowed [32] tokens to change our engine this year.

“My goal is to claim at least five wins this season.”

Abiteboul, whose company is also working with Ilmor to enable engine development, says he would back proposals made by Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone to make engines more powerful.

“Renault will not object to the idea of Bernie Ecclestone, to make engines more powerful, and to make more sound, [so long as] costs remain under control,” he added.

“The idea is attractive, but it seems that it is already too late [for] 2016. 2017, however, is ideal timing.”