- Renault F1
Renault F1 is the
Renaultcompany's Formula Oneracing team. Renault has a long if intermittent history of involvement in motor racing, including Ferenc Sziszwinning the first French Grand Prix, usually regarded as marking the birth of Grand Prix motor racing. Renault has competed in Formula One (originally via subsidiary Renault Sport), both as an engine supplier and as a constructor from the late 1970s to the present day, with several breaks. Renault introduced the turboengine to Formula One when they debuted their first car, the Renault RS01at Silverstone in F1|1977. Although the Renault team won races and competed for world titles, it was as a supplier of normally aspirated engines to the Benetton and Williams teams in the 1990s that Renault first tasted world championship success. Renault returned to the category as a constructor in F1|2001 by taking over the Benetton team, which was renamed Renault in F1|2002. Their first championship as a constructor was achieved in F1|2005; the same year that they won their first drivers' championship with former test driver, Fernando Alonso, repeating that feat in F1|2006.
Renault F1 is coordinated from the team's UK base at
Enstone, Oxfordshirewhere the chassis are designed and built. Engines are manufactured at Renault's facility at Viry-Châtillonoutside Paris. As well as their championship wins in 2005 and 2006, Renault also contributed to 5 driver's world championships (F1|1992, F1|1993, F1|1995, F1|1996, F1|1997) and 6 constructor's world championships (1992, 1993, F1|1994, 1995, 1996, 1997) as engine supplier for Benetton and Williams.
Currently, Renault F1 is responsible for Renault's involvement in Formula One; Renault's other motorsport activities are conducted through
1970s and 1980s
Renault first involvement in Formula One was made by the
Renault Sportsubsidiary.Renault entered the last five races of F1|1977 with Jean-Pierre Jabouillein its only car. The Renault RS01was well known for its Renault- GordiniV6 1.5 L turbocharged engine, the first regularly used turbo engine in Formula One history. Jabouille's car and engine proved highly unreliable and became something of a joke during its first races, earning the nickname of "Yellow Teapot" and failing to finish any of its races despite being extremely powerful.
;1978The following year was hardly better, characterized by four consecutive retirements caused by blown engines, but near the end of the year the team showed signs of success. Twice, the RS01 qualified 3rd on the grid and while finishing was still something of an issue, it managed to finish its first race on the lead lap at Watkins Glen near the end of F1|1978, giving the team a fourth place finish and its first Formula One points.
Expanding to two drivers with
René Arnouxjoining Jabouille, the team continued to struggle although Jabouille earned a pole positionin South Africa. By mid-season, both drivers had a new ground-effect car, the RS10, and at Dijon for the French Grand Prixthe team legitimized itself with a brilliant performance in a classic race. The two Renaults were on the front row in qualifying, and pole-sitter Jabouille won the race, the first driver in a turbo-charged car to do so, while Arnoux and Gilles Villeneuvewere involved in an extremely competitive duel for second, Arnoux narrowly getting beaten to the line. While Jabouille ran into hard times after that race, Arnoux finished a career-high second at Silverstone in the following race and then repeated that at the Glen, proving it wasn't a fluke.
1980 - 83
Arnoux furthered this in F1|1980 with consecutive wins in Brazil and South Africa. Jabouille continued to have problems with retirements, but in his only points finish he emerged victorious in Austria. At the end of the year Jabouille crashed heavily at the Canadian GP and suffered serious leg injuries, which effectively ended his career as a Grand Prix driver.
Alain Prostwas signed up for F1|1981. In his three years with the team, Prost showed the form that would make him a Formula One legend and the Renaults were among the best in Formula One, twice finishing third in the constructors championships and second once. Prost won nine races with the team while Arnoux added two more in F1|1982.Arnoux left for rival Ferrari after 1982 and was replaced by American Eddie Cheever. In F1|1983, Renault and Prost came very close to winning the drivers' title but were edged out by Nelson Piquet(Brabham-BMW) at the last race of the season in South Africa. It was later rumoured that the Brabham team had been using illegal gasoline in that race. It has however never been proved. [http://www.autosport.com/asknigel/index.html/id/22176] 1984 - 85
After Prost left, the team turned to
Patrick Tambayand Englishman Derek Warwickto bring them back to prominence. Despite a few good results, the team was not as competitive in F1|1984 and F1|1985 as in the past, with other teams doing a better job with turbo engines, some of which came from Renault themselves. F1|1985 provided another F1 first, as the team ran a third car in Germany that featured the first in-car camera which could be viewed live by a televisionaudience. The car only lasted 23 laps before a clutch problem forced it to retire. In 1985, major financial problems emerged at Renault and the company could no longer justify the large expenses needed to maintain the racing team's competitiveness. CEO Georges Bessepared down the company's involvement in F1 from full-fledged racing team to engine supplier for the F1|1986 season before taking it entirely out of F1 at the end of that year.
In 1989, Renault rejoined Formula One as an engine supplier to Williams and by the sixth round in Canada, the team had already secured their first Renault powered victory. Renault had also pioneered the first V10 engine in F1. Williams enjoyed signs of promise for the next 2 years and by 1992, with the aid of
active suspensions, the Williams-Renault was a World Championship-winning car, winning over half of the races during the season.
Williams perfected their active suspensions for 1993 and won the Constructors' Title in yet another dominant year with
Alain Prostwinning 7 of the 16 rounds. 1994 would prove to be the only time Renault did not win the Drivers championship after Williams driver, Ayrton Senna, the favourite to win the title, was killed at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. This left the Brazilian's inexperienced teammate, Damon Hill, to take Senna's seat as team leader, but by the French Grand Prix, Hill was 37 points behind Championship leader Michael Schumacher. After a series of disqualifications for the German, Hill managed to close the gap down to 1 point before the last race in Adelaide, but the two drivers collided controversially and both retired from the race, making Schumacher the drivers' champion. Schumacher was the only driver to win a Drivers title during the time between 1992 and 1997 without a Renault engine, but Williams still retained the Constructors' championship.
Benetton acquired Renault engines for 1995 and their driver, Michael Schumacher, managed to successfully defend his Drivers title by 33 points from his nearest rival, Damon Hill, while Benetton won their first, and only, Constructors title by 29 points. Williams won the next two seasons in both the Drivers' and Constructors' championship with Damon Hill winning the title in 1996 and
Jacques Villeneuvein 1997.
Renault pulled out of Formula One at the end of 1997, coinciding with the departure of
Adrian Newey, the head of Williams' design team, who had designed all of the Renault powered Williams' from 1992 onwards. However, the power unit was still bought by teams 'off the shelf' for several years afterwards by Benetton (where the engine was re-badged as " Playlife"), Williams (where it was re-badged as " Mecachrome") and BAR and Arrows(where it was re-badged as " Supertec").
September 15, 2006, Renault announced that it had agreed to supply Red Bull Racingwith engines in 2007 and 2008. On November 1st, 2006, Red Bull Racingconfirmed the use of Renault engines and the transfer of the Ferrari units to Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Renault's return in the 2000s
March 16, 2000, Renault purchased Benetton Formula Limited for $120 million to return to Formula One. Renault maintained the Benetton name for the 2000 and the 2001 seasons. When reporting the purchase the " International Herald Tribune" commented that "the team will not race under the Renault name until it is ready to win and reap the marketing benefits." [cite news|first = Brad|last = Spurgeon|title = Teams Rev Up for Battle in the Brand-Name Game|work = International Herald Tribune|page = 24|date = 2000-03-24|accessdate = 2007-01-31]
Despite the purchase by Renault, the team still used the Playlife engines they had been using for the last two years. The drivers were
Giancarlo Fisichellaand Alexander Wurz. The team scored 20 points, as well as 2 podium finishes in Monaco and Canada.
Wurz left the team in 2001 to become a test driver at
McLarenand was replaced by British driver, Jenson Button, who was "on loan" from the Williams team. Button and Fisichella scored 10 points for the team, including a podium finish for Fisichella in Belgium.
Despite outscoring his teammate during 2002, Button was dropped by Renault in 2003, his replacement was Spaniard
Fernando Alonso, who had been impressive as a test driver the previous year. Alonso won the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix, the first time Renault had won a Grand Prix since the 1983 Austrian Grand Prix. Renault was innovative during this period producing non-standard designs such as the 111° 10-cylinder engine for the 2003 RS23 which was designed to effectively lower the center of gravity of the engine and thus improve the car's handling. This eventually proved too unreliable and heavy, so Renault returned to a more conventional development route.
In F1|2004, the team surprised everybody by becoming real contenders for second place in the Constructors' Championship. Trulli won the Monaco Grand Prix in spectacular fashion. However, his relationship with Renault (particularly with team principal and Trulli's ex-manager Flavio Briatore) deteriorated after he was consistently off the pace in the latter half of the year, and made claims of favouritism in the team towards Alonso (though the two teammates themselves remained friendly).
Commentators regularly point to the French Grand Prix as the final straw for Briatore, where Trulli was overtaken by
Rubens Barrichelloin the final stages of the last lap, costing Renault a double podium finish at their home Grand Prix. He subsequently announced he was joining Toyota F1for the following year and in fact left Renault early, driving the Toyota in the last two races of the 2004 season. Hoping to secure second place in the Constructors' Championship, Renault replaced Trulli with F1|1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuvefor the final three races. However, Villeneuve — away from F1 racing for almost an entire season and struggling to aclimatise quickly to racing at the premier level — did not impress, and the team finished third behind BAR.
Giancarlo Fisichellawas Trulli's replacement for the 2005 season. 2005 would see him finally driving a top class car, and indeed he took advantage of a rain-affected qualifying session to win the first race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix. Fernando Alonsothen proceeded to steal the limelight by winning the next three races and building himself a considerable lead in the Drivers' World Championship, thereby doing the same for Renault in the Constructors' championship. Meanwhile, Fisichella experienced a run of bad luck that saw him fail to finish several races. After the San Marino Grand Prix, Renault and Alonso's championship leads came under massive attack from a fast-but-fragile McLaren-Mercedesteam and Kimi Räikkönen respectively for the Drivers' Championship. McLaren took the lead of the Constructors' World Championship by securing a one-two finish at the Brazilian Grand Prix, but that was to be the race in which Alonso secured the Drivers' title, becoming the youngest ever driver to do so. This achievement was followed by a win in China to secure the Constructors' World Championship for Renault after McLaren driver Juan Pablo Montoya's car was badly damaged by a drain cover coming loose on the track, breaking Ferrari's six-year stranglehold on that title. It was the first time Renault had won the title as a manufacturer, after plenty of success as an engine supplier in the 1990s with Williams.
October 21to celebrate winning both the Drivers' and Constructors' World Championships, and to mark the end of the V10 era in Formula One, Renault engineers at Viry-Châtillon used an RS-25 V10 engine to "play" Queen's " We Are the Champions".
Fernando Alonsoand Giancarlo Fisichellawere retained for 2006, although test driver Franck Montagnywas replaced by Heikki Kovalainen. The team's 2006 contender, the R26 - featuring a seven speed gearbox made of titanium, was unveiled at a launch event on January 31.
The team started 2006 well, Alonso won the opening Bahrain Grand Prix as well as the Australian Grand Prix and finished second in Malaysia behind teammate Fisichella to claim Renault's first one-two finish since
René Arnouxand Alain Prostin 1982. They continued this, with Alonso taking 2 second places and a well earned win at his home grand prix in Spain, at the Circuit de Catalunyaas well as the Monaco Grand Prix. Fisichella took 8th, 6th and 3rd place finishes in the San Marino Grand Prix, European Grand Prix and the Spanish Grand Prix.
The team celebrated its 200th Grand Prix at Silverstone, which was won by Fernando Alonso. As the Formula One season progressed to its North American stint, Fernando Alonso won the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, Canada. The U.S Grand Prix was something of an exercise of minimising damage. Ferrari had a distinct performance advantage over the whole weekend. However Renault were the fastest of all the
Michelinrunners. Fisichella finished 3rd, well ahead of Alonso who finished 5th.
At the French Grand Prix, Renault were expected to be faster than Ferrari, however Ferrari again had the advantage. Alonso was running third for most of the race, unable to challenge the Ferraris of Schumacher and Massa. However a tactical switch to a two stop strategy enabled him to pass Massa and finishing second, minimising his points loss.
On 21 July 2006 the FIA banned the use of mass damper systems, developed and first used by the Renault team and subsequently used by 7 other teams, including Ferrari. Flavio Briatore has named
McLarenas the team who complained to the FIA. [cite journal | last = Bishop | first = Matt | year = 2006 | title = The Long Interview: Flavio Briatore | journal = F1 Racing | volume = | issue = October | pages = 66–76 | accessdate = 2006-10-30] The system uses a spring-mounted mass in the nose cone to reduce the sensitivty of the car to vibration. This is particularly effective in corners and over kerbs to keep the tyres in closer contact to the track surface than they would otherwise be. [ [http://www.pitpass.com/fes_php/pitpass_news_item.php?fes_art_id=28765 FIA bans controversial damper system] ] However race stewards at the German Grand Prix deemed the system legal. The FIA announced its intention to appeal the decision and Renault announced they would not race with the system for fear of retrospective punishment if the appeal was upheld. Renault's performance at the German Grand Prix was one of their worst of the season, however the team blamed blistering of their Michelin tyres, suggesting it was not a result of the loss of the mass damper system. The FIA International Court of Appeal met in Paris on August 22 2006, to examine the appeal made by the FIA against the decision handed down by the stewards at the German Grand Prix. The Court ruled that use of the device known as a Tuned Mass Damper is an infringement of Article 3.15 of the Formula One Technical Regulations.
Points in the Brazilian Grand Prix secured the constructor's championship for Renault in 2006.
October 16, 2006, Renault announced the Dutch banking giant ING would replace Mild Sevenas title sponsor for three years starting in F1|2007. [ [http://www.itv-f1.com/News_Article.aspx?PO_ID=37725 ING replaces Mild Seven at Renault] . Retrieved October 16, 2006.]
Renault confirmed Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen as their race drivers for 2007 with
Nelson Piquet Jr.and Ricardo Zontaas test drivers. The car for 2007, the R27, was unveiled on 24 January 2007, and bore a new yellow, blue, orange and white livery in deference to the corporate colours of ING.
Renault engines are also being used by
Red Bull Racingteam, while the Ferrari engine contract held by Red Bull Racing was passed on to Scuderia Toro Rosso (otherwise known as the second "development" Red Bull team).
Renault struggled in comparison to their form in recent seasons in Australia, with
Giancarlo Fisichellafinishing the race in 5th place. Rookie Heikki Kovalainenstruggled even more than the Italian, spinning his car as he chased Toyota's Ralf Schumacherand ending up in 10th place. Results didn't improve until the start of the European season, although both drivers finished in the points in the next race at Malaysia. Heikki Kovalainen struggled in Bahrain too, although the gap between himself and Fisichella at the end of the race was not as great as was seen at Melbourne, with Fisichella finishing only 8th. The team's pace began to pick up in Barcelona, with both drivers making it into Q3, setting competitive lap times in the race (4th fastest lap for Kovalainen) and looking set for 5th and 8th, only to be hampered by an identical problem on both fuel rigs, forcing both drivers to make extra pitstops which dropped them back to 7th and 9th.
November 8, 2007the FIAhave accused Renault F1 of having McLaren F1 technical information in their possession. [ [http://uk.reuters.com/article/motorSportsNews/idUKL0819133920071108?feedType=RSS&feedName=motorSportsNews Renault Charged With Having McLaren Data] . Retrieved November 8, 2007.]
According to the charge, the information in hand "included the layout and critical dimensions of the McLaren car as well as details of McLaren's fuelling system, gear assembly, hydraulic control system and suspension".
The hearing on this matter has taken place in
Monacoon December 6, 2007. The charge faced by Renault F1, breaching of article 151c of the Sporting Regulations, is the same charge that had been put on McLaren's desk earlier on in 2007 in the espionage controversy involving Ferrari & McLaren. The FIA found Renault F1 in breach of article 151c and have decided not to penalize the team.
2008It was announced on
December 10, 2007that Fernando Alonso has signed with Renault F1 for F1|2008. Alonso will drive alongside promoted test driver Nelson Piquet Jr., and is believed to have secured number one status within the team. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/7136498.stm BBC SPORT | Motorsport | Formula One | Alonso opts for return to Renault ] ] [http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/64336 - Autosport: Alonso and Piquet confirmed for 2008]
In the mid 2000s, questions were raised regarding Renault's commitment to its Formula One team, particularly after the appointment of
Carlos Ghosnas CEO in 2005. Ghosn has a reputation as a ruthless businessman, nicknamed "le cost cutter". Ghosn has time and again confirmed his belief in Formula 1, both as an advertising vehicle and a substantial technology investment. At the 2005 French Grand Prix, Ghosn set out his policy regarding the company's involvement in motorsport: "We are not in Formula One out of habit or tradition. We're here to show our talent and that we can do it properly... Formula One is a cost if you don't get the results. Formula One is an investment if you do have them and know how to exploit them." After Renault won both championships in 2006 for a second year, Ghosn said "It is an important victory because it justifies the investment Renault has made in Formula 1, and will make in the future. More and more, Formula 1 is working as an investment for us, not a loss." [cite news | title = Ghosn: Titles justify investment | url = http://www.itv-f1.com/News_Article.aspx?PO_ID=37885 | publisher = www.itv-f1.com | date = 2006-10-27 | accessdate = 2006-10-30] . In May 2008, two years since Renault F1 dominated the sport, and amidst a relatively weak season for the team, Ghosn again stated that irrespectively of results, Renault would stay in F1 for 'many years' [http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/67847 - Autosport: Renault to stay in F1 'for many years'] . Renault have signed an agreement with Formula One Management pledging its allegiance to Formula 1 until 2012.
Renault F1 has a research relationship with
Boeing, the aim of which is "to investigate technology collaboration projects of mutual interest." [Boeing Company. (June 17, 2004). [http://www.boeing.com/news/releases/2004/q2/nr_040617p.html Boeing, Renault F1 Team to Collaborate on Technology Development.] Press Release. ] Similar relationships include that of McLaren and BAE Systems.
Complete Formula One results
() (results in bold indicate pole position)
*Season in progress
* [http://www.ing-renaultf1.com/en/ ING Renault F1 Team's official website in English]
* [http://www.ina.fr/archivespourtous/index.php?vue=notice&from=themes&cs_page=3&cs_order=0&code=C0524222302&num_notice=23&total_notices=31 French Grand Prix 1979, INA archives video (French soundtrack)]
* [http://uk.youtube.com/user/INGRenaultF1Team ING Renault F1 Team's YouTube channel]
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