Renault sees Red Bull and McLaren as benchmark in 2018

Abiteboul: Renault is in line with its long-term plan (4:13)

Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul discusses the team's goals as the 2018 season approaches and what it means to have the French Grand Prix back in on the racing calendar. (4:13)

Renault will measure its performance against the success of its customer teams in 2018 as it continues to build towards its target of a full championship challenge in 2020.

Renault returned to F1 as a factory team in 2016 but has continued to supply customer teams with power units alongside its works outfit. This year McLaren will join Red Bull in using the French manufacturer's engines, meaning Renault's works team will be in direct competition with two of the best-funded teams on the grid.

But Renault Sport F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul believes Red Bull and McLaren will be useful markers for his team to measure itself as it continues to work towards a title challenge from 2020 onwards.

"Our strategy in Formula One is very clear," he said. "We are in Formula One as a full works team. The marketing value is associated to the works team and that's clear.

"However, power unit technology is at the heart of what we do and what we offer. Renault has an amazing track record of supplying engines to the best teams and best drivers, securing many successful results with Formula 1 teams, from Williams to Red Bull. It's natural to continue that history and stay true to that legacy.

"It's an honour to supply to teams as big as Red Bull and McLaren and is a recognition of the quality of our product and work that they have chosen Renault. Of course, they are very strong competitors and that's an extra challenge and motivation. They will clearly be our benchmarks for performance this season."

Renault finished sixth in last year's constructors' championship and by the end of the season appeared to have the fourth fastest car -- behind Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes -- at certain circuits. But rather than target a specific position in this year's championship, Abiteboul is hoping to see progression across the board.

"Our headline target is to show continued progression through results. We want to be able to showcase our progression in every regard; power unit, chassis, operations, drivers. Everything must improve and we must continue to grow.

"We want to demonstrate this in many different ways, from the teams we will be directly racing against, to the gap to the leaders, including also our fan base and the respect that our team will inspire in our way we behave on and off track."