Back in the 1990’s you may recall the name Mario Illien as part of the Mercedes engine development program that saw much success at McLaren. You may even recall Ilmor company and the work in the US-based CART series or some of his work in Moto GP.
Now this very special talent has been linked to Renault in order to rapidly advance their engine development in the hopes of catching up with Mercedes in Formula 1.
Illien is an outside consultant who is being brought in the help Renault look at every possible angle in which to short-cut their development cycle and advance their performance. Renault Sport F1’s managing director, Cyril Abiteboul, told AUTOSPORT:
“If you look at 2016, it is absolutely a crucial year,” he said. “Everything might yet explode in to something quite different, but according to the current regulations it is really the year where you need to have the right package.
“[If you do not] you are in a bad situation not just for one year but for many years.
“That is why the milestones we are about to get for 2016 are particularly important.
“And before that milestone we need to have as much intelligence as possible on what can be done. So this is very much a long-term plan.
“This [Illien] is an external support; it is not an internal support. It is a company and it is a supplier and it is part of Renault’s road map to progress.”
The key here is the rate of development over time. The biggest performance upgrade allowable with the new regulations that started in 2014 is now, this year. Next year the amount of allowable performance upgrades is reduced and in 2016 there is very little allowable performance upgrades to the engine specification.
You can see why Renault F1 Sport is keen to get as much out of their design as they can now before the regulations freeze them into a under-performing design. To have Mr. Illien available is like Ganassi Racing getting Mr. Dinan to work on their BMW engines…it’s a big boost to any development program and I’m sure it is welcome new to Renault customer, Red Bull.
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT