Renault expects development of their 2016 car to slow in the coming months as it switches its focus to the new 2017 regulations, which are to be set in stone on April 30.
Whilst the new season has just begun, a major regulation shake-up planned for 2017 will see teams switching focus away from their current cars to those that they will race next year – and for teams that has already happened according to Renault’s Bob Bell.
“The team that will do the best job in 2017 is probably the one that started developing six months ago, honestly,” he told ESPN. “There will be teams that have already been working on it for that period of time, if not longer.”
Renault don’t have that luxury after a late takeover of the Lotus team, but they too will begin to switch focus in the coming months, which will restrict the RS16’s development.
“The pace of development of the  car will be slow in the early part of the season, but there is a development programme and we will bring upgrades to the car, but it probably won’t be as strong a progression as we would do under normal circumstances,” explained Bell.
“We have the added problem this season that 2017 is looming and it’s a very different set of regulations, so at some point we will have to decide to make the significant switch from 2016 effort to 2017 effort, otherwise we will just get left behind then as well.”
That decision will be made over the course of the next few races and is therefore likely to happen after the Spanish Grand Prix when most – if not all – teams bring substantial upgrades to their cars.
“It’s going to be a difficult call and we will judge it over the first few races and decide where we are in the pecking order and how that meshes with our ambitions for the season.”