Renault is not ruling out launching a new car later this year, team boss Frederic Vasseur has admitted.
The early promise of the newly-launched RS16 has been mixed, as the car is a hurriedly-compiled version of the one designed by Lotus last year for a Mercedes engine.
“The recovery of the Lotus project was done late,” Vasseur admitted in an interview with France’s L’Equipe, “and at our first meeting in Enstone, we set the first objective as being present at this test.
“We had to adapt the chassis for a Renault engine, which did not mean redoing everything from top to bottom, but not far from that,” he explained.
It means that, for now at least, Renault is troubleshooting the 2016 car just so it runs respectably.
“We have no short-term goal,” Vasseur revealed. “We’re not going to say we want to finish seventh or eighth this year.
“But I also don’t want us to take the easy route of saying ‘We are in a transition year, we spend the year painting the office and we’ll see you in 2017’.
“That would not be good psychologically,” he insisted. “Enstone is a race team and we must keep that spirit of always getting the last hundredth.
“Are we going to introduce a more successful car during the season? First we will see where we are in Melbourne and then get an idea about what are the clear regulations for 2017.
“But even if we switch to 2017, I want to keep a total commitment to 2016,” Vasseur added.
But he said it is reassuring to know that Renault has the full backing of its carmaker parent, who are willing to wait the necessary time for success.
“The advantage of having a medium-term project, which is quite rare in F1, is enormous. Carlos Ghosn has set us goals for three years and five years, which is a luxury,” said Vasseur.
Also warning Renault that success may take some time is Fernando Alonso, who won his two titles for the French marque ten years ago but is now struggling to build up the new McLaren-Honda project.
“If Renault returns it is to win,” he said, “but F1 these days takes a little time, money and also luck.
“It’s like McLaren-Honda,” Alonso added. “It’s not just the name and the past that gives you success. But I’m glad they (Renault) are back.”