Cape Town - Renault need to catch up with Mercedes by the start of 2018 before they can become "capable of innovating", according to managing director Cyril Abiteboul.
The French manufacturer has been some way behind Mercedes in terms of engine development over the past few years and their team last won the Formula 1 World Constructors Championship back in 2006.
And Abiteboul wants Renault - who also provide power units to Toro Rosso and Red Bull - to get back on an even footing with Mercedes by 2018.
"Now we really have the appetite to demonstrate our capacity, true to what we have been doing in history," Abiteboul said, as quoted by Sky Sports.
"Before being capable of innovating I think it’s important that we completely catch up to Mercedes, which we hope to be able to achieve at the start of 2018."
Renault thrived during Formula 1's V8 era but has since struggled to reach those heights and Abiteboul admits the team became a "bit complacent".
"Clearly we have disappointed with the new generation of engine with the new power unit," Abiteboul explained. "It's not in the Renault DNA to disappoint either the fan or the customer team. Obviously Red Bull were very vocal about it.
"In 2015 it was about resetting, restarting from a clean sheet of paper. We changed a lot of the management structure and the processes in the French engine workshop.
"I think we were a bit complacent in what we were doing, based on the success we had with Red Bull with the V8, not looking at the big new regulation change and power unit."