Renault is hoping to halve its power deficit to Mercedes this year before getting fully up to speed in 2017.
After purchasing the Lotus F1 team, Renault will return as a full works outfit this year as well as continuing to supply Red Bull. Renault has struggled to match rivals Mercedes and Ferrari under the current V6 turbo regulations, but engine technical director Remi Taffin is confident it can start to make significant progress this year.
"We're looking at the first half of the step we're having to Mercedes," Taffin said. "I say the first half because we never know how much the competitors will improve over the winter.
"If we were one second down last year, maybe we will get back three or four tenths. That's the sort of things we're looking into. But again, we'll see what we've got at testing and races."
Renault's main weaknesses has been its internal combustion engine (ICE) and turbo, while the energy recovery system (ERS) is considered to be quite advanced.
"We've kept on developing the specification we had for the end of last year, it's just ongoing development," Taffin added. "It's going to be different. It's mainly ICE and turbo. The ERS systems are under control and where we wanted it to be at the moment. It's not the big part of what we have to work on."
However, Taffin said the key for 2016 would be to ensure the car is reliable enough for the works team to make progress with its chassis before a big push for performance in 2017.
"The team in Viry has obviously got a few challenges, but the key one is to give Enstone a good power unit so that the Renault car can be reliable and we can put mileage onto the car, because we need that to develop.
"The second one is to get the most out of it through performance. As we went through the year developing the engine we could see clear signs of our progress, which we will be putting into the first race in Melbourne and we want to carry that through. We also have 2017 in our sights and that could be when we are very up to speed."