Q&A with Rob White, Renault F1 technical director
"There is a new optimum to be found each year"
With 2013 being the last year of the V8 engines, what remains to be optimised on the RS27?
2013 will be the last year of the V8 engines that, after eight years of service, will be retired at the end of the season to make way for the V6 in 2014. As a result, the engines, and indeed the engine regulations, are now so mature that changes are only permitted for reliability purposes or to make minor adjustments to take into account the new season’s cars. There is however a new optimum to be found each year in the cars and we have to work with our partners to be able to support them as they seek this level. A good example of this is the Coanda effect exhausts we saw introduced last year; small performance gains can be made through a slightly different use of the engine. It is in these areas that we have worked hardest to get the final tenths and hundredths out of every single part. This is done very much in collaboration with our individual teams, which is why maintaining good relations is even more crucial this season.
Would you say therefore, at this stage, that greater gains can be made operationally rather than technically?
Absolutely. At this stage in the V8 lifecycle there is more to be won by optimising procedures and trackside operations completely, plus working with teams and suppliers in order to be completely prepared. We need to make sure all the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed well in advance of the season to cope with every eventuality. We have worked hard at mapping and calibration for new engines and we have also tried to eradicate our reliability gremlins from last year.
What changes have you put in place, if any?
We are not necessarily making major changes, rather we have an action plan in place to counteract each problem we suffered in 2012. Unlike in previous seasons where we have seen clarifications or tightening of engine rules, there aren’t any major changes for this season, which is positive as it allows us to fully optimise our own performance.
Are we likely to see the same sort of ‘exhaust race’ we have seen in previous seasons?
Not entirely as the four teams have adopted an approach that is conservative and aggressive at the same time. Fundamentally there is the same package, but they need to be aggressive to put through performance enhancements and stay ahead of the competition. Our job is to accompany each team in that direction.
With next year seeing the introduction of the V6 engine, how are you splitting resources between engine projects this year?
The V8 development is limited to preparing the individual GPs we go to and our housekeeping needs to be correct to guarantee the quality is there. Inevitably this is the year that the design and development of the new V6 engines will overtake the resources dedicated to the V8, so we need to ensure a turnkey service right until the Brazilian Grand Prix. The new V6s are the biggest change to hit the engine world in over ten years, perhaps ever, so we need piece of mind that everything is functioning seamlessly this season trackside.