Renault admits 2017 engine development was 'too aggressive'

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Renault will prioritise the reliability of its power unit above all else in 2018 after admitting it rushed through a series of performance upgrades this season.

In the back of a Red Bull, Renault power won three of 2017's 20 races but the French manufacturer was down on power throughout the season compared to rivals Ferrari and Mercedes. Towards the end of the year, its engines were also hit by a series of reliability issues that resulted in a number of retirements and grid penalties for its customers at the final rounds.

The pressure to perform will increase next year as McLaren joins Red Bull and the works Renault team in using the engines from Viry-Chatillon, but Renault Sport F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul is confident his outfit has learned its lessons from 2018.

"The first thing will be reliability because we've seen this season that you need to walk before you run," Abiteboul said. "I think on many occasions we've been too aggressive in the way that we were trying to bring performance and extra power to the engine too quickly because of the expectation of all customers including the yellow cars [the Renault works team].

"So I think we need to go step by step: first be reliable then accumulate as many miles as possible during the winter tests -- I think that's important for any chassis organisation. I understand, talking about Red Bull, that they changed their philosophy and are planning for the development of their car but if the engine is not reliable it's going to be useless.

"So we need to get that. And if we have that, I am extremely comfortable and confident that we have the sort of technological bricks to bring to the engine in order to make steps and to catch Mercedes."

Red Bull is hoping a more competitive engine will allow it to challenge for the championship next year, while McLaren has similarly lofty ambitions as it switches from Honda power to Renault over the winter. After a year of restructuring and rebuilding the Renault works team, Abiteboul is confident his manufacturer team will be on a par with McLaren next year and may even be fighting at the front.

"It seems to me that, competing against these cars, that they have a great chassis, so I don't see why McLaren wouldn't have a great chassis again next year. I think it should be a strong package and as far as we are concerned, we hope and believe we will be racing against McLaren and so that should provide an interesting show.

"Whether it's part of the mix at the top or not will depend on what we do over the winter but I think it should be an interesting Formula One to watch."