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Renault F1 is making a comeback: The three lives of Renault

Renault F1 celebrates comeback
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D the first step has been taken. One day after the Japanese GP, Renault confirmed that it wanted to buy a majority of Lotus. The company now has 45 days to complete the purchase and rewrite all contracts. Lotus has no more alternatives. Mercedes cannot equip more than 8 cars with drive units. Since Mercedes is taking Manor on board for 2016, there are no more capacities for Lotus. Renault has to redeem the purchase option, otherwise the factory in Enstone will be closed.

The delay was due to differences of opinion between CEO Carlos Ghosn and Bernie Ecclestone about the status of the team. Ghosn demands privileged membership in the club and wants a written guarantee of the bonus, which can only be paid out in 2021 due to the ongoing Concorde agreement. Apparently there is now a promise that the premiums from 2017 to 2020 will be paid out in one piece at the beginning of the next agreement. This means that Renault can make the purchase using a loan without having to take charge of its own money.

Renault brings Turbo into Formula 1

For Renault, it is the third after 1977 and 2002 Entry into Formula 1. The first was an experiment. With Renault, for the first time since the days of Honda in the 1960s, a large-scale manufacturer entered Formula 1 again. The French made their debut at the British GP in 1977 with a 1.5 liter turbo engine and radial tires from Michelin.

The engine, which was derived from the successful Formula 2 engine, was initially only equipped with a turbocharger from Garrett . The bi-turbo followed later. A charge air cooler was also missing, which should lead to many defects in the piston and valve area.

The English mocked the car as a 'yellow teapot'. In allusion to the many engine and turbo damage, which were announced with a lot of smoke. Cosworth chief engineer Keith Duckworth was confirmed in his opinion that the displacement coefficient of 1: 2 would not give the turbo engine a chance. The French Revolution, with its 510 hp at 11,000 rpm from 6 cylinders, did not scare anyone. That should change. On July 16, 1977, Formula 1 lost its innocence. Nobody knew it yet.

Over the course of 5 years, all manufacturers converted to turbocharged engines. In the mid-80s, horsepower figures easily climbed above the 1,000 mark. And the cost inAreas that pushed some racing teams to the verge of ruin. In 1986 naturally aspirated engines were even banned. Renault had sown the turbo, but should not reap the fruits.

The world championship titles went to BMW, Porsche and Honda. In 1983 Renault came closest to its goal. The world championship crown went to Nelson Piquet in the Brabham BMW at the last moment. Renault accused BMW that Bavaria's last petrol development was on the verge of legality. Alain Prost criticized his team. The French figurehead could no longer be held.

It was the beginning of the end. In 1984 Renault had no win. A year later, the French finished 7th in the field with 16 points. Derek Warwick and Patrick Tambay despaired of a car that was neither fast nor reliable. The exit at the end of the year was only logical after the bankruptcy with 17 failures.

The company's poor sales figures made the decision easy for the group management. The yellow car disappeared. The customers Lotus, Ligier and Tyrrell were allowed to drive the V6 turbo for years, the valves of which have meanwhile been equipped with an air cushion instead of a spring.

Five world championship titles in six years

Renault was back at the beginning of the naturally aspirated engine era. But this time only as an engine supplier. The V10 was the best engine in the field from 1992. Williams Benetton won the world title in 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996 and 1997 with the ten-cylinder from Viry-Chatillon. Nevertheless, the Renault board pulled the ripcord.

In view of once again poor sales figures, the lead time was one and a half years the withdrawal from Formula 1 was announced at the end of 1997. Renault built a new engine for its farewell year. The RS9 engine had a cylinder angle of 71 degrees, weighed only 121 kilograms and delivered 760 hp at 17,200 rpm.

The winning engine stayed in business. Renault's umbilical cord to Formula 1 was called Partner Mecachrome. Honda did the same with Mugen. In 2001 Renault staged part 1 of the comeback. A new ten-cylinder with the unusual bank angle of 110 degrees stuck to the company's good tradition. The main thing is different. The engine, which weighed only 88 kilograms, was fragile and only delivered 790 hp. The low center of gravity was exchanged for poor torsional rigidity.

In the 2002 season, the Benetton private racing team became the works team. Purchase price: $ 120 million. Team boss Flavio Briatore turned his team inside out. Almost 400 employees, a budget of around 200 million dollars, plus a team of technicians that had worked at Jordan a few years ago and was led by Mike Gascoyne. Compared to other manufacturers, it was still a slim structure.

Renault had upgraded its hip flask with 110 degree cylinder angle to 820 hp and was now starting with the excellent driveability of the engine and the goodTo benefit from the car's traction. Jenson Button and Jarno Trulli always won many positions at the start. They never made it onto the podium, but they regularly scored points and secured Renault the targeted fourth place in the Constructors' Cup. In 2003 Fernando Alonso won the first Grand Prix for Renault's second GP project in Hungary.

After two titles, Alonso says goodbye

Then Briatore had enough of the playfulness of his engineers. He ordered the engine department to build a mainstream engine that you can win with. In 2005 the time had come. The world championship title finally went to Paris for the factory team.

The Renault R25 convinced Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella, unlike their rear-heavy predecessors, with good-natured driving behavior that aroused confidence in the driver. The lower failure rate was also a plus for the troops that won both world titles. The light blue cars retired six times, World Cup opponents McLaren-Mercedes eight times. The McLaren's Achilles heel was the drive shaft.

In the first half of the season, Alonso gained a cushion of 24 points, on which he lived skillfully. It was here that the youngest world champion of all time developed the ability that has so distinguished him over the years. Alonso takes every opportunity that presents itself. At the moment when Raikkonen seemed to be catching up, Renault stepped up technically. The competition only got wind of it in 2006. The engineers under the direction of Bob Bell invented the mass damper.

The flywheel mass at the front and rear calmed the car during compression and rebound, kept the aerodynamics within the optimal window more efficiently and reduced tire wear. At the third to last Grand Prix in Brazil, the first title for Alonso and Renault was perfect. Renault only secured the constructors 'trophy in the final in Shanghai with 191: 182 points against McLaren.

In 2006, Renault won the drivers and constructors' titles for the second time in a row. A remarkable achievement considering the blows in the neck that Briatore's team had to take. Alonso's planned departure was just as depressing as the change from four senior engineers to Red Bull. In the middle of the hot phase of the World Cup, the FIA ​​banned the mass damper.

Renault is privatizing its racing team

With the move from Alonso to McLaren, Renault dived into midfield. That improved only marginally in 2008 when the Spaniard returned. The fourth place in the World Championship was tainted by the fact that the team had swindled victory at the Singapore GP through an agreed crash by Nelson Piquet junior. Flavio Briatore and Head of Technology Pat Symonds were each exiled by the FIA ​​for 5 years.

At the end of the 2009 season, Formula 1 was about to be sold out. It happened what the then FIA President Max Mosley the teamshad prophesied. First BMW got out, then Toyota, then Renault. All with the same hypothetical argument that one must take care of sustainable environmental technologies.

In fact, the financial crisis and failure drove them out of sport. The defeats had become too expensive. And the manufacturers were also humiliated by the private racing stables Brawn GP and Red Bull. One had taken over the Honda legacy, the other sold lemonade.

The large safety net was once again set up. Sauber bought back the BMW team with great financial pain. Renault privatized its racing team. The Luxembourg financial investors Gérard Lopez and Eric Lux bought in with their company Genii Capitals. They competed under the name Renault in 2010 and 2011, but then renamed the team Lotus.

As an engine manufacturer, Renault stayed with its eight-cylinder engine. And there, as in the 90s, had great success. With Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull, the French won 4 world championship titles between 2010 and 2013. They just didn't make anything of it. Red Bull cleared the laurel and had at most criticism for his partner. Even then, the chassis engineers complained about a 20 hp deficit compared to Mercedes.

Renault plans in Mercedes dimensions

Despite the success, the premier class has long since made no sense for the CEOs . How should you market a high-revving 2.4 liter V8. Renault demanded the hybrid formula and got it. It was blackmail according to the motto: Either the four-cylinder turbo comes with energy recovery or we get out. Then only Ferrari persuaded them to adopt the V6 concept.

Today we know that Renault scored a classic own goal. Even in the second year of the hybrid formula, the drive unit from Viry-Chatillon is not competitive. That led to a dirty divorce with Red Bull. Without having achieved one goal, the next one was already targeted.

Head of sport Cyril Abiteboul and brand ambassador Alain Prost convinced Carlos Ghosn that Renault would only get from Formula 1 has something when you compete as a works team like Mercedes. So it comes to the curious constellation that Renault buys back the team that was sold 6 years ago.

The two plan generously. Renault should compete on a budget in the order of Mercedes. So 200 million euros plus. For this, the group lets its junior category die, which saves 50 million euros and can be invested in the Formula 1 project.

For this, oil company Total and Infiniti join. Both together deliver around $ 80 million. Added to this is Pastor Maldonado's dowry of $ 47 million. The rest is contributed by the entry fee from the Ecclestone pot. It's going to be $ 10 million better than this year. The eighth World Cup last year is on the way to 6th place.

In oursIn the gallery we once again show scenes from Renault's eventful Formula 1 past.


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