In February, Formula 1 surprised everyone with a new decision, due both to the Coronavirus pandemic and Honda’s decision to leave the grid as a motorization force. The Circus is going to experiment a further engine freeze that will extend to the next season, stopping the cars’ development for three seasons, until the new power units will be ready to be exploited. Such decision has been welcomed by Renault’s engine chief Remi Taffin as an opportunity to be fast-tracked, using some updates that were originally planned for the 2021 season- “The '21 engine was not actually driven by what's happening in '22 or '23- Taffin declares to Motorsport.com.
"The decision we have made back in 2020 was driven by the fact that we would actually put everything on '22, having in mind that we would have another revolution in ‘23. – he continues - We could make the best out of the new baseline we had for '22, which is now not the case anymore, because we haven't got '23. But actually we're quite happy. We can have actually a big push for '22, so we are even pushing further forwards some of the evolution we had in '23 into '22. It's been a different game, but all in all if we look at the long game, I think that's not a bad decision we had a year ago."
The French team has already said that it is studying a switch to the split turbo and compressor on the 2022 power unit used by Mercedes because it had to delay the new design to the next season. It will be an opportunity for Alpine to consider if it wants to keep racing with the Renault engine, as this year it will be the only team who is motorized by Renault, with McLaren switching to Mercedes as its engine supplier.
The engine freeze in 2020 influenced Renault, which, Taffin reveals, caused the French engine to introduce the updates that were originally planned during the last winter break.
“We implemented the modifications we forecast for last year mid-season into this year,- Renault’s engine chief states - So it's more of an evolution that we would have in season at races rather than over winter. And obviously we had then put our focus on '22, but at the same time we did over the winter the validation of our '21 engine, which is an evolution of last year one. We're basically set up for race one. And I'm hoping that what we've done is enough to preserve the reliability we got last year, which proved to give us a good baseline and obviously a bit more performance from the evolution I just mentioned."
Renault shows how it is possible to use unpredictable events as an opportunity to take with optimism to improve.