In January it was announced that all Formula 1 teams had agreed to a freeze on engine development for the coming years. This was to meet the request of Red Bull Racing, who had proposed this with a view to taking over the Honda project. With this, Red Bull will continue to race in the coming years, despite not normally having the capacity and resources to further develop the power source.
Renault was initially opposed to the idea, but eventually went along with it. As the plans took shape, Renault saw several advantages in freezing engine development for the next few years. The immediate result is that teams are now in the process of finalising their engine developments before the freeze takes effect in 2022.
On this subject, Motorsport.com spoke to technical director Rémi Taffin, who says the company has brought forward its development plans for 2023 in order to get ahead of the 2022 freeze. "The '21 engine was not actually driven by what's happening in '22 or '23. 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."
"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."
Revolution comes sooner
It's explained a bit complicated by Taffin, but what it boils down to is that the team had its focus on 2022 with a planned revolution in 2023. The freeze has brought everything forward and so Renault is already working on those developments much earlier. They also want to finish everything before 2022, so they enter 2022 with a more advanced power source than originally planned.
In short, the engine revolution is coming earlier than initially planned. Whether that is reproducing the Mercedes concept remains to be seen. They recently admitted that they are considering using the split power source, as Mercedes has done for years. In any case, in retrospect Taffin is happy with the decision they have taken.
In conclusion, he says: "But all in all if we look at the long game, I think that's not a bad decision we had a year ago."