Renault have hinted that they are exploring the possibility of switching to the Mercedes concept of a split turbo and compressor on their power unit when they undergo an engine overhaul in 2022.
In 2020 the manufacturer made the decision to delay introducing a new engine until 2022, meaning that the power unit they run in the 2021 Alpine will be an upgraded version of the previous year. The benefit of this is that it will allow Renault extra time to evaluate possible changes for the new unit, and one of the ideas being considered is to adopt the design pioneered by Mercedes, where the turbo and compressor elements are split.
Mercedes have experienced great success since introducing the concept at the beginning of the turbo hybrid era, and others have since followed suite, with Honda switching to the design in 2017. It has also been speculated that Ferrari are considering the design for 2022.
Renault are now looking into the idea too. This was hinted at in recent images that emerged of Fernando Alonso visiting Renault's engine facilities in Viry, with the pictures appearing to show the airbox pipework in a different position to its place on the current engine.
Remi Taffin, Renault F1's engine chief, has confirmed that the team are considering the change of concept.
"The simple answer is yes," Taffin told RacingNews365.com among others. "We could be going down that route… I'm pretty sure you've seen some photos, so I'm not going to lie. We are evaluating."
Meanwhile Renault have suggested that the recently-introduced engine freeze - which will see engine development frozen from 2022 - has not affected their plans for this season, and they believe it can also provide some benefits for the future.
"Actually we're quite happy we can have a big push for '22," Taffin explained. "We are pushing further forwards some of the evolution we had in '23 into '22."