Renault has recruited renowned F1 engine guru Mario Illien as it and works partner Red Bull vow to close the gap on dominant Mercedes.
As efforts to relax the sport’s so-called engine ‘freeze’ look set to fail in the face of Mercedes’ defiance, Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport reveals that Renault has hit back by signing up one of the most famous engine designers in F1 history.
Swiss Illien had departed the F1 scene and dabbled in Indy and even MotoGP projects, but he is best remembered for his company, Ilmor, having produced title-winning Mercedes works engines for McLaren.
Now, the talented engineer is being brought in by Renault to help the struggling French marque get up to speed in the new turbo V6 era.
Auto Motor und Sport claims Illien may be a last roll of the dice for Renault, whose current 2.4 litre ‘power unit’ is said to be missing between 40-60 hp to the dominant Mercedes.
Disgruntled works partner Red Bull has been considering going it alone with engine design, while Renault is losing two customers — Lotus to Mercedes, and Caterham to failure.
“The business model is no longer working for Renault,” said correspondent Michael Schmidt, “because there is EUR 40 million less in the kitty.
“If it continues like this, you have to expect Carlos Ghosn to question the F1 project, as he is known as an ice-cold numbers man.” (GMM)