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Why Renault doubts anyone can achieve a Brawn GP-style advantage in 2017

Mark Sutton/Sutton Images

Renault's chief technical officer Bob Bell thinks it is unlikely anyone will replicate Brawn GP by finding a loophole to catch out its rivals under the 2017 regulations.

The Brawn team emerged from the ashes of Honda's withdrawal from F1 to win the 2009 title in its single year of competition, despite limited budget and testing. Brawn excelled thanks to its interpretation of that season's rule changes around the rear of the car to produce the famous 'double-decked' diffuser, enjoying a significant advantage for the first half of the season.

Even Ross Brawn himself, who has returned to F1 this year as the sport's managing director of motorsport, expects Mercedes' advantage to continue despite the huge changes, which are aimed at achieving a dramatic drop in lap times and making cars harder to drive.

When asked if there was a chance of a team emulating Brawn GP in 2017, Bell told ESPN: "I could be perceived as a bit of a pessimist but I don't think we'll see a reproduction of the Brawn situation, unless some team pulls a rabbit out of the hat that we haven't thought of. Of course it's always possible and I'll be excited from a technical stand-point if it happens, but I think this season will be about the usual ingredients of diligence, hard work, effort, and attention to detail in lots of different areas to really get the best out of these regulations.

"I think what we've done, the approach we've taken, is not dissimilar to what all the teams have been aiming for this winter."

Renault laboured to ninth last year on its return to the grid as a manufacturer, which followed a late takeover of the Lotus outfit. The French manufacturer wrote off much of the 2016 season from an early stage as it turned its focus to this year's sweeping regulation changes.

Bell says last year's campaign showed Renault's willingness to take on difficult challenges.

"It was a big challenge. The easiest thing in the world for Renault would have been to come in right off the back of 2016, not even compete, and just focus their efforts on 2017, but we don't do the easy things. It was a challenge to put some semblance of development into the 2016 car, building knowledge and understanding for the future, and in parallel to develop this radically different 2017 car.

"We tried to put as much effort as we could afford to into 2017, started as early as we could, but its probably no secret there are top level teams that started work on the 2017 car in 2015. We weren't able to do that, so we didn't have that advantage, but we achieved a sensible balance between 2016 and what we want to achieve in 2017."