Renault will introduce three sets of upgrades to its car at the 2020 Formula 1 season-opening Austrian Grand Prix next week.

After the first half of the 2020 season was decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the heavily-delayed campaign will finally get underway with back-to-back races at the Red Bull Ring, starting with the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5.

Renault F1 team principal Cyril Abiteboul confirmed the Enstone squad was continuing its aggressive development plan for the 2020 season despite the disruption caused by coronavirus.

He said some “tough decisions” had been made to ensure work continued prior to the first race of the campaign and revealed that developments it had planned to bring to rounds in Vietnam, the Netherlands, and Spain will all be on the RS20 in Austria.

“The upgrades are coming,” Abiteboul explained in a press conference with select media including Crash.net on Friday.

"It's been a huge effort from internal production to get the package from races three, five and six - the initial numbering obviously - from Vietnam, the Netherlands and Barcelona that will be on our car in Austria.

“Those races have obviously not happened but the performance that was supposed to come will be in Spielberg.”

Despite the development push, Abiteboul stressed he wanted to downplay expectations ahead of the forthcoming season.

“I want to downplay any expectations because we know that our car was really, really bad last year,” he admitted. “So we just hope that we will be slightly better.

“Again, we are still not totally sure how the competitiveness of the car from the winter test - I don’t want to say too much at this point.

“Let’s go to Austria, there is a good vibe. But there is clearly a huge satisfaction from the huge effort to get these parts available in quantity.

“We all know Spielberg can be harsh on the cars, particularly with the double-header. There has been some kerbs being removed. We had to plan in quantity also some parts which we hope will bring some performance to the car.”

Esteban Ocon said he was excited to try out the “very different” Renault package and predicted a “hell of a data gathering” session would take place during Friday practice to work out which developments have worked.

“The car is going to be very, very different to the one we were supposed to drive in Australia, which is crazy, because some of the parts we will never have driven,” he added.

"But that’s exciting. It’s going to be a hell of a data gathering on Friday to see where we have improved and how everything is going to feel.”

Teammate Daniel Ricciardo last week said he expected the leading midfield teams to all be within a tenth of each other in Austria. He believes the order will still remain “tight” despite the upgrades Renault is bringing.

“You make a bit of a summary after testing and try and understand where you stand really, and it looked like the midfield was going to be very tight," Ricciardo explained.

“I guess that's what maybe Melbourne would have looked like. As you've heard, we've got a different car to next week in Austria, it's going to be a different car to what we would have raced in Melbourne.

"I do expect it to be tight. I do expect the whole field to certainly squeeze up this year, tighten up. I think the gap to the leaders will close, and I think the whole midfield is really becoming, it could all be around a tenth, so it's going to be close.

"But it's all just talk now. We've got just over a week, and everyone will have some answers, including us."

 

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