Renault says it has gone "very aggressive" with the development of its 2017 engine, a decision which may see it only deliver proper gains later in the campaign.
Renault has struggled for performance and reliability since the start of the V6 turbo era in 2014 but saw a marked improvement in this year's campaign, with customer team Red Bull winning two races. Despite those gains the French manufacturer has opted for a departure from its most recent concept for next year's campaign.
When asked whether such a big change is a risk to introduce an all-new engine concept next year, Renault's managing director Cyril Abiteboul told Motorsport.com: "Frankly we have had long discussions about that because at the point in time that everything is changing on the rest of the car, we could have taken a more conservative approach in trying to freeze what we have and focus on the chassis.
"But we have not gone for that. We have gone for a very aggressive option - which is that there is no time. If we want to be where we would like to be for 2018 or 2020, which is the next phase, when we want to target the top teams, we cannot afford to delay anything. So we need to accept to take risk.
"We will be focusing on reliability with that new concept of engine - which will be a new concept I can confirm that. It means that it may not be a big jump in terms of performance, simply for the reason that we want to make sure to introduce this concept that it is reliable and that will be the perfect platform to develop the performance for the next three to four years."
The Motorsport report states Renault plans to introduce its phase one engine for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. It will not introduce power units close to full potential until the Spanish Grand Prix in May.
Abiteboul believes many of the concepts introduced by Renault have never been used in F1 before.
"I prefer to be conservative in the expectation for the first initial running of the engine at the start of the season. But definitely it is an engine that is offering the potential to cope with an awful lot of development. We have lot of ideas of concepts in the pipelines - most of them, as far as I am aware, have not been seen at the track.
"Clearly I am not going to disclose anything, but we are super excited by the level of innovation that this new platform offers. So it is a choice that we are not making for the start of the season but we are definitely making for the long term."