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Renault intent on closing gap to Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull

Sky Sports | Updated: 2018-12-30 18:00:38

Renault believe they can "close the gap" to F1's leading three teams in 2019, claiming developments for next season look "very promising".

The French team came fourth in the Constructors' Championship this year- their best finish since returning to the sport with lofty ambitions in 2016 - but didn't gain on Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull as much as they'd hoped.

Renault scored more than double their amount of points from 2017 this season, but remained around a second-a-lap slower than the 'big three' and are still waiting for a first F1 podium in seven years.

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But Renault, who have the added boost of nine-time race winner Daniel Ricciardo joining them in 2019, are confident they can make a big step with their next car and engine.

"For sure we wanted to be better this year for different reasons - but we will be better next year," Renault advisor and four-time F1 world champion Alain Prost told Sky F1.

"I think we can close the gap, I just don't know how much yet.

"We are working very hard on the engine side, which looks very promising."

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Renault are only powering two teams next season, themselves and McLaren, with Red Bull switching to Honda engines.

And Prost added: "I don't think you can beat the top teams, but let's wait for Red Bull-Honda because there's a question mark there.

"But when you start to get towards them you start to operate differently, and that is the target for next year."

Nico Hulkenberg, who will partner Ricciardo in his third year with the team next season, finished seventh and 'best of the rest' in the standings in 2019 but is also keen to take a step forward.

Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull collectively scored 78 per cent of the points on offer this year.

"Yes, they have much bigger budgets and resources but they're still in the race, and to win you have to beat them all," said Hulkenberg.

"We will take [fourth in the championship] for now but we want to be up there playing with the big boys in the future."

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