Renault chiefs believe the new car they unveiled on Tuesday will see drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer propel them into the top five this forthcoming Formula One season.
Bob Bell, chief technical officer, didn’t go as far as Renault Sport boss Jerome Stoll in aiming for an improvement from ninth in the constructors championship last term to fifth.
Nevertheless he dubbed the RS17 as the ‘first real Renault car of the modern era’ -- their first season back in the sport in 2016 after buying the ailing Lotus team was with an uncompetitive car.
However, after a major hiring exercise -- Lotus had reduced their workforce -- the team are aiming to be realistic constructors title contenders by 2020 as they bid to relive the glory days when they won successive drivers titles with Spaniard Fernando Alonso in 2005/06.
“What we know about this car so far gives me a lot of optimism,” said Bell.
Bell said that the car had been designed from zero.
“It’s a ground-up design as we had the time and the resources to do it, notwithstanding the fact that the change in the regulations demanded it,” he said.
“There is no carry-over of componentry from 2016 to 2017, so it really has been a clean-sheet-of-paper approach.
“Our performance metrics show that we’ve made gains in a strong and consistent manner throughout its development. If you look at the car itself you will see tremendous attention to detail and sophistication.
“The aerodynamic concept has been the biggest change and the majority of our focus is on the bodywork.
“All teams will have added a decent amount of performance under the new 2017 rules, and it’s not till we get to testing that we can see how good a job we’ve done in relative terms to our opposition.”
Hulkenberg, 29, joined the team from Force India and the German is yet to record a podium finish since making his debut in 2010 with a highest overall finish in the championship standings of ninth in both 2014 and 2016.
Palmer, 26 and son of former Formula One pilot Jonathan, raced for Renault last season in his maiden campaign and scored just one point.
Renault also announced they have hired France’s four-time world champion Alain Prost as a special adviser to the executive committee of Renault Sport F1.
The season commences with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 26.