Renault will not make "crazy" promises to lure Fernando Alonso back to its Formula 1 team for 2018, insisting it wants drivers committed for the long term.
Amid his current frustrations at McLaren-Honda, Alonso has been linked to a return to the Renault team where he won the 2005/06 championships.
But Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul warned Alonso would have to be patient at Enstone.
"I am not here to pull off a one-off coup with someone, I am not living in the past," Abiteboul told Autosport when asked if Renault would be ready for a driver such as Alonso in 2018.
"I started working in F1 when Flavio [Briatore] and Fernando were in this group together at Enstone, so I am emotionally touched by this period.
"But equally circumstances have changed, we need also to have a final line-up that will be the right one for the future.
"I don't think next year we will be in a position to fight for the championship.
"So we need a driver who can support us in this ultimate fight for the championship, but be prepared to wait for the time to come for this to happen."
Abiteboul thinks top-line drivers are more of an asset when a team is in title contention.
"There is not a driver who will move you from 'group two' to 'group one', that is for sure," he said.
"I think we are moving towards a driver formula rather than a team/car formula.
"If you look at our development, hopefully we will be in a position to be part of the top teams in two years' time.
"Then the regulations will have stabilised, and everyone will have sort of converged.
"And by that point it will be crucial, it will be paramount, to have a driver who is capable of making that sort of last contribution to be the best.
"But we don't intend to do crazy things because we know our situation and we need to project ourself in time."
Alonso has agreed with McLaren not to commit elsewhere until they hold talks in the summer, and Renault wants time to judge current drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer too.
"We need to be fair to our line-up, I need to see how our line-up is performing and delivering," Abiteboul said.
Hulkenberg has impressed in his first three grands prix with Renault and is on a long-term deal.
"With Nico we have turned it into a long-term programme and we understand where we are going," Abiteboul added.
"We have been very transparent about what will be our situation this year, but he also knows what we are doing in order to be in a better situation in years to come.
"But Nico is at a point in his career where he is capable of projecting himself to a certain point of time."