LONDON, England - Renault has played down the seriousness of what appeared to be an early-season engine crisis.The Renault-powered teams struggled for laps at the Jerez test session in January 2014 and former F1 team boss Gian Carlo Minardi repeated rumours that World champion team Red Bull might be looking for a new supplier of turbo V6 engines.The former boss said he had also heard that Renault was looking beyond the walls of its own factory and "shopping" for technical fixes.SPECULATION 'OVERBLOWN'Minardi said: "This news can only feed suspicions of structural problems in the engine that are not easy to solve in the short term."However, addressing publications on February 14, Renault's engineering chief Remi Taffin said speculation about the French brand's problems was overblown. "The problems are worse from the outside than they are from the inside. It's a difficult moment but we will get through this."It was believed Renault had come some way in fixing the problems struck at Jerez when Lotus debuted its E22 without trouble earlier in February. However it subsequently emerged that a 'filming' day at Misano for the similarly Renault-powered Toro Rosso did not go so well.Taffin said the Toro Rosso issues were "not a surprise - we knew what we had in the car and we thought we would get away with it, but obviously not".The Frenchman said the major problem at Jerez was hardware and software and that he was confident Renault would arrive for testing in Bahrain later in Febraury "without all these issues". Still, there was no guarantee, as he said Renault was still working on the software.RECOVERY PLANTaffin added: "We're trying do everything at the same time, but then sometimes we have to prioritise so it's not easy to have everything altogether at once."He admitted Renault was behind schedule but denied it would take "months" to catch up, insisting all the actual parts of the power unit were sound. "We are at least where we would have sought to be for the first test, so maybe now we are three weeks behind, and now we are on a recovery plan."Meanwhile, World champion Sebastian Vettel on Friday seemed to acknowledge that, amid Renault's problems, F1's Mercedes-powered cars appeared to have the upper hand. Vettel told Sport Bild magazine: "All the Mercedes-powered cars looked very strong at Jerez but that is no surprise, as we know how much time and effort Mercedes has invested in the new power train." Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 F1 season – fresh reports every day.