Red Bull Racing technical boss Adrian Newey believes that engine performance will be a key factor in 2017 as high downforce increases the amount of time drivers spend on full throttle.
Newey also says that Renault has made good progress with its power unit – although he stressed that, as always, everything depends on what rivals have done over the winter.
“It certainly means power is more important because we all have so much grip, then the percentage full throttle per lap goes up,” he said at the UK’s Autosport International show. “So the amount of time that you’re actually grip limited as opposed to power limited is less.
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“I think Renault are definitely going in a very good direction at the moment. Two years ago we ended up in the position where they made no progress over the winter – if anything they actually went slightly backwards compared to the first year with the hybrid. Last year they made very good progress through the season, still behind Mercedes and Ferrari, but closing the gap rather than the gap widening.
“They’ve been working very hard over the winter. I know their numbers for this year, it’s a good step forwards. As always, the same as with us, what we don’t know is what our rivals have been up to.”
Newey confirmed that work is progressing well on the RB13: “I’m glad to say we’ve successfully passed our nose crash test, it’s the earliest we’ve ever managed that. That’s usually a bit of a last minute panic. Design is obviously complete now and we’re heavily into the manufacturing stage.”
Meanwhile, he’s confident that the F1 team is in good hands after he took reduced his involvement to look at other projects.
“Over the last couple of years I’ve been stepping back. We have a great team at Red Bull, our four senior guys – Rob Marshall, Pierre Wache, Dan Fallows and Paul Monaghan – they are very able, and that’s allowed me to kind of step back and take a bit more of an overseeing function, which then gives me the time to get involved in other things.
“Initially that was a bit on the America’s Cup with Ben Ainslie’s team, more recently it’s been working on a road car with Aston Martin.”