F1 Raceweek: No engine upgrades for Renault, Williams look to bounce back


The 2016 Formula One season makes its way to Hungary this weekend as we move into the second half of what has been an enthralling battle. 

Mercedes team-mates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton are separated by just one point atop the drivers' championship, while the likes of Max Verstappen have staked their claim as a future challenger to the throne. 

On the other end of the spectrum, new boys Haas, Manor and Renault have been battling it out for top-10 finishes, which the former holds the advantage. 

But Renault, who sit ninth in the constructors' standings courtesy of Kevin Magnussen's seventh-place finish in Russia, say their focus is already on improving for 2017. 

Asked when the team will introduce their next power unit upgrade, Renault's engine technical director Remi Taffin said: "I think it will be next year. The big step we will have will be next year's engine, race one.

"Until we get to the end of the season now we will be working on the specification we have now, trying to extract the most out it, but there won't be any more let's say big step as we had for race one and six."

It feels like forever ago Williams were on the podium, when Valtteri Bottas finished third in Canada, with the team suffering three disappointing races since then. 

Both Bottas and team-mate Felipe Massa failed to finish in the points last time out in Silverstone - the first time since Austin last year, when both retired from the race. 

"It does seem that Canada was a long while ago - we were on the podium there - but it was only five weeks ago," said Williams' technical director Pat Symonds

"But three races since then, Baku, Austria, Silverstone, and I feel in all three of those we haven't performed in the way I expected to. We are looking into it. We are looking at various things that we have introduced. 

"It's quite an intense period, you know. Over a period of just five weeks we're actually doing four races and one test - five events in five weeks. It's hard to catch your breath when it's going at that sort of pace. 

"But I'm pretty confident we're getting on top of things. We had a good day today. I was pleased with how it went, particularly on the long runs, and I think we're getting back where we should be."

Like Williams, Ferrari struggled last time out in Silverstone, with the Italian constructor missing out on a place on the podium for just the second time this year. 

While they still hold second in the standings behind Mercedes, Ferrari senior performance engineer Jock Clear knows the team are coming under intense pressure from an improving Red Bull.

"Our performance has come under a bit more scrutiny now that Red Bull are putting us under pressure, but again that is a testament to how strong they are as a team," he said.

"We haven't lost a huge amount of ground to the leaders. If you look at it over the course of the last couple of races, in Canada we were very close and in Silverstone we were a long way off. 

"I think we have learned a lot about some of the areas where the car is weak and that has helped us to identify where we need to work and we are under no illusion that Mercedes are going to continue to be strong and Red Bull are going to continue to be strong. 

"All the teams are working hard. It's the ongoing challenge. We are working as hard as we can on closing that gap and sorting out the issues, but as everybody has said already, we can't take our eyes off next year, because that's a big opportunity."