"A race-winning engine on merit is not something that is going to happen this year," Renault F1 chief Cyril Abiteboul admitted to Autosport. "What we have done is shortcut and bypass the important steps in engine development."
That's a pretty damning mea culpa, especially for a company with such a proven track record in F1. But Renault has come to realize just how far behind it has fallen.
It powered Daniel Ricciardo to be the only three race wins that Mercedes didn't claim last season. But though we're only one race into the 2015 championship, the Renault-powered, Red Bull-fielded entries performed horribly in Australia, where Ricciardo finished sixth, his team-mate Daniil Kvyat didn't make it to the starting grid, Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz Jr. finished ninth and his wingman Max Verstappen failed to finish at all.
"To win races," said Abiteboul, "it is not just the engine but also the car and the drivers." One way to look at that statement is this: If Ricciardo wins any races this season for Red Bull, it will be despite, not because of, the Renault power unit.