Renault F1 – Wikicars

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Renault F1 currently known as Lotus Renault GP is a Formula One racing team, formerly owned by the Renault car company. Renault has a long though intermittent history of involvement in motor racing, including Ferenc Szisz winning 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 turbo engine to Formula One when they debuted their first car, the Renault RS01 at Silverstone in 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 2001 by taking over the Benetton team, which was renamed Renault in 2002. Their first championship as a constructor was achieved in 2005 ; the same year that they won their first drivers’ championship with former test driver Fernando Alonso repeating that feat in 2006 .

Renault F1 is coordinated from the team’s UK base at Enstone, Oxfordshire where the chassis are designed and built. Engines are manufactured at Renault’s facility at Viry-Châtillon outside Paris. As well as their championship wins in 2005 and 2006, Renault also contributed to six driver’s world championships (1992. 1993. 1995.

1996. 1997. 2010 ) and seven constructor’s world championships (1992–1997 and 2010) as engine supplier for Benetton, Williams and Red Bull.

Currently, Renault F1 is responsible for Renault’s involvement in Formula One; Renault’s other motorsport activities are conducted through Renault Sport .

On 4 November 2009 Renault held an emergency board meeting to decide the future of the Renault F1 team, [2] and on December 16, a majority shareholding of 75% was officially sold to Luxembourg-based investment company Genii Capital. [3]

On 8 December 2010 it was announced that Group Lotus would be buying Renault’s remaining 25% stake in the team, which will be renamed Lotus Renault GP for the 2011 season. [4]


1970s and 1980s




Expanding to two drivers with René Arnoux joining Jabouille, the team continued to struggle although Jabouille earned a pole position in South Africa. By mid-season, both drivers had a new ground-effect car, the RS10, and at Dijon for the French Grand Prix the 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 Villeneuve were 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.


Arnoux furthered this in 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 Prost was signed up for 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 1982. Arnoux left for rival Ferrari after 1982 and was replaced by American Eddie Cheever. In 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. After the end of the season, a rival fuel company said that the fuel used by the Brabham-BMWs in South Africa had exceeded the maximum Research Octane Number of 102 permitted under the Formula One regulations. BMW said that this was incorrect and FISA released a dossier supporting their stance. No action was taken. [5]


After Prost left, the team turned to Patrick Tambay and Englishman Derek Warwick to bring them back to prominence. Despite a few good results, the team was not as competitive in 1984 and 1985 as in the past, with other teams doing a better job with turbo engines, some of which came from Renault themselves. 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 television audience.

The car only lasted 8 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 Besse pared down the company’s involvement in F1 from full-fledged racing team to engine supplier for the 1986 season before taking it entirely out of F1 at the end of that year.

Engine supplier

From 1983 to 1986, Renault became engine supplier to Team Lotus with its iconic John Player Special livery. Though not competitive initially, with the recruitment of genius designer Gérard Ducarouge the marquee gained competitiveness towards the later part of the 1983 season into 1984, with Nigel Mansell and Elio De Angelis scoring regular podiums.

Rising superstar Ayrton Senna joined Team Lotus in 1985 and the combination of his immense speed, talent and the superfast, but thirsty Lotus 97T notched up numerous pole positions and grand prix wins, but chronic unreliability prevented a sustained attempt at either title. In 1986, aristocrat Johnny Dumfries was chosen to be Senna’s new partner after Senna vetoed the original choice of Derek Warwick.

More pole positions and occasional wins followed with the Lotus 98T but the tallies could have been improved further with better reliability or fuel comsumption lasting the full race duration. In the four seasons between 1983 to 1986, Team Lotus with Renault engines scored 19 pole positions and 5 Grand Prix victories. This period helped to launch Ayrton Senna to superstardom.

Renault Sport pulled out completely from Formula One after the 1986 season but for only a brief sabbatical until they renewed their involvement in 1989. when they became 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 pneumatic valved V10 engine in F1. Williams enjoyed signs of promise for the next 2 years and by 1992. with the aid of active suspension. the Williams-Renault was a World Championship-winning car, winning over half of the races during the season.

Williams perfected their active suspension for 1993 and won the Constructors’ Title in yet another dominant year with Alain Prost winning 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 Villeneuve in 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 ).

On September 15, 2006, Renault announced that it had agreed to supply Red Bull Racing with engines in 2007 and 2008. On November 1, 2006, Red Bull Racing confirmed the use of Renault engines and the transfer of the Ferrari units to Scuderia Toro Rosso .

On 5 November 2010, Lotus Racing announced that they would use Renault engines for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. [6]

Renault’s return in the early 2000s

On 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. [7]


Despite the purchase by Renault, the team still used the Playlife engines (although descended from Renault motors) they had been using for the last two years. The drivers were Giancarlo Fisichella and 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 McLaren and 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 .


In 2002. Benetton were rebranded as Renault F1. Fisichella left to rejoin Jordan. The team replaced the Italian with fellow Italian Jarno Trulli. Button and Trulli scored 23 points during the season.


Despite outscoring his teammate during 2002, Button was dropped by Renault in 2003. His replacement was Spain’s 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 2004. the team were contenders for second place in the Constructors’ Championship. Trulli won the Monaco Grand Prix. but 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 Barrichello in 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 for 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 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve for the final three races. However, Villeneuve — away from F1 racing for almost an entire season and struggling to acclimatise quickly to racing at the premier level — did not impress, and the team finished third behind BAR .

World Championship years (2005–2006)


Giancarlo Fisichella was Trulli’s replacement for the 2005 season. He took advantage of a rain-affected qualifying session to win the first race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso then won the next three races to build a considerable lead in the Drivers’ World Championship, thereby doing the same for Renault in the Constructors’ championship. Meanwhile, Fisichella failed to finish several races. After the San Marino Grand Prix.

Renault and Alonso’s championship leads came under attack from a fast-but-fragile McLaren-Mercedes team 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. This broke Ferrari ‘s six-year stranglehold on that title. It was the first time Renault had won the title as a manufacturer.


Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella were retained for 2006, while test driver Franck Montagny was 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.

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 Arnoux and Alain Prost in 1982. Alonso took two more second places, and then wins at his home grand prix in Spain. and at 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 Alonso. As the season progressed to its North American stint, Alonso won the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, Canada. At the U.S Grand Prix.

Ferrari had a distinct performance advantage over the whole weekend. However, Renault were the fastest of all the Michelin runners. Fisichella finished 3rd, while Alonso finished 5th.

At the French Grand Prix. Renault were expected to be faster than Ferrari, but Ferrari again had the advantage. Alonso ran 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 finish second.

On 21 July 2006 the FIA banned the use of mass damper systems, developed and first used by Renault and subsequently used by 7 other teams, including Ferrari. Flavio Briatore claimed that McLaren had raised the issue of the system’s legality with the FIA. [8] The system used a spring-mounted mass in the nose cone to reduce the sensitivity of the car to vibration.

This was particularly effective in corners and over kerbs to keep the tyres in closer contact to the track surface than they would otherwise be. [9] However race stewards at the German Grand Prix deemed the system legal. The FIA announced its intention to appeal that 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 rather than 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 of the German Grand Prix stewards. 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 scored in the Brazilian Grand Prix secured the constructor’s championship for Renault in 2006.

On October 16, 2006, Renault announced that the Dutch banking giant ING would replace Mild Seven as title sponsor for three years starting in 2007. [10]

Struggle for form (2007–2009)


Renault confirmed Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen as their race drivers for 2007 with Nelson Piquet, Jr. and Ricardo Zonta as 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 were also supplied to the Red Bull Racing team for the 2007 season.

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Renault struggled in comparison to their form in previous seasons in Australia. with Giancarlo Fisichella finishing the race in 5th place. Rookie Heikki Kovalainen struggled even more than the Italian, spinning his car as he chased Toyota’s Ralf Schumacher and 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.

On November 8, 2007 the FIA accused Renault F1 of having McLaren F1 technical information in their possession. [11] 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 took place in Monaco on December 6, 2007. The charge faced by Renault F1 – breaching of article 151c of the Sporting Regulations – was the same as that faced by McLaren earlier on in 2007 in the espionage controversy involving Ferrari McLaren. The FIA found Renault F1 in breach of article 151c but did not penalize the team.


It was announced on December 10, 2007 that Fernando Alonso had signed with Renault F1 for 2008. Alonso drove alongside promoted test driver Nelson Piquet, Jr.. and was believed to have secured number one status within the team. The team started 2008 in a similar manner as the year before; Fernando Alonso managed to garner fourth at the opening Australian Grand Prix as a result of a mistake from previous Renault employee Heikki Kovalainen.

However, form was still short of 2006 by a large degree over the first half of the 2008 season. The team brought new parts to the Spanish Grand Prix. including a new engine-cover, dubbed the Shark-fin, similar to the one introduced by Red Bull on their RB4. Alonso managed to qualify on the front row for that race on a light fuel-load, yet retired with an engine-failure halfway through.

Alonso’s front row qualifying performance in Spain was a rare moment of achievement from the former world champion. Both cars retired at the Canadian Grand Prix and Nelson Piquet Jnr.. who retired from six of the first nine races, failed to score until the French Grand Prix .

The German Grand Prix heralded a change in the team’s fortune. Piquet Jr. benefited from the deployment of the safety car to secure Renault’s first podium of the year with second. Both drivers scored at the Hungarian Grand Prix although they failed to pick up anything at Valencia two weeks later.

Two fourth places for Alonso in Belgium and Italy were a prelude to the Singapore Grand Prix. in which Alonso profited from the early crash of his team mate (later revealed to be a deliberate crash to aid the Spaniard. See: Renault Formula One crash controversy ) to claim his first victory of the season, and Renault’s first since the 2006 Japanese Grand Prix. This victory made Alonso and Renault the first ever winners of a formula one race held under floodlights.

Renault underlined their return to the front at the subsequent Japanese Grand Prix. in which Alonso steered clear of Lewis Hamilton ‘s first-corner mistake to record another win. Piquet Jr. finished fourth in the team’s best performance of the season. A further double points finish in China was followed by Alonso’s second place finish at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.

The Renault R28 was believed by many insiders to have overtaken BMW Sauber by season’s end as the closest challenger to the domination of the sport by Ferrari and McLaren.


Renault entered the season with high hopes of challenging for both world titles. Although Alonso managed four points finishes in the first six races, it was soon clear that this target was unrealistic. By mid-season it appeared as though Renault were making progress, with Alonso setting the fastest lap in Germany and securing pole position in Hungary. albeit on a light fuel load.

However, Alonso was forced to retire early in Hungary due to a fuel pump failure, after a front wheel came loose as it was incorrectly fitted at his first pit-stop. At Belgium Alonso again looked like scoring a podium for the team, but had to retire with another problem with one of his wheels which was damaged as a result of a first-lap clash with Adrian Sutil. Piquet performed poorly in the first half of the season and was replaced by Romain Grosjean for the last third of the season.

Neither Piquet nor Grosjean managed to score a point. A podium in Singapore was little consolation in what had been a frustrating and controversial season for the team.

Renault had been suspended for one race (the 2009 European Grand Prix) due to the incident involving Fernando Alonso ‘s wheel not being fitted properly in the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix. however this has been overturned on appeal following a decision from the FIA on 17 August 2009. [12] [13]

On 4 August, Nelson Piquet, Jr. was told by Renault he would not continue driving for them for the rest of the season.I have received notice from Renault of its intention to stop me from driving for them in the current F1 season, read a statement on Piquet’s website. Piquet had described the 2009 season as the worst period of my career and had criticised team boss Flavio Briatore. [14] He was replaced by test driver Romain Grosjean as of the European Grand Prix. [15]

After his first podium of the year in Singapore, Fernando Alonso confirmed that he would be leaving Renault, moving to Scuderia Ferrari starting in 2010 and ending in 2012. Alonso stated he would end his career at the Italian giant, so it is unlikely he will return to the French team. Alonso was replaced by Polish driver Robert Kubica .

Race fixing allegations

It also wishes to state that its managing director, Flavio Briatore and its executive director of engineering, Pat Symonds. have left the team.|source=Renault F1 statement, 16 September 2009 [16] |width=27%|align=right During the 2009 season, the actions of Renault F1 during the 2008 season were examined over alleged race fixing. The issue surrounded Nelson Piquet, Jr. ‘s crash during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix which Renault team mate Fernando Alonso went on to win.

At the time, Piquet, Jr. had characterised the incident as a simple mistake. After Piquet, Jr. left the Renault team in August 2009, allegations surfaced that this crash had been deliberate, to give an advantage to Alonso.

Following an Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) investigation in which Piquet, Jr. stated he had been asked by Renault team principal Flavio Briatore and engineer Pat Symonds to stage the crash, on 4 September 2009 Renault were charged with conspiracy and race fixing, and were due to face the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris on 21 September 2009. Initially, Renault and Briatore stated they would take legal action against Piquet, Jr. for making false allegations, however, before the 21 September meeting, Renault announced they would not contest the charges, and that Briatore and Symonds had left the team. [17] [18] Briatore contested his ban in a French court, which then overturned the ban so Briatore can be involved in any FIA-sanctioned motorsport.

Renault Restructured

2010: Genii Capital Steps in, performances improve

Renault have sold a majority stake in the team to Genii Capital, a Luxembourg based investment company. [19] However Renault still retains a 25% share in the team and it will continue as an engine supplier. A move which was given more confidence as Red Bull Racing confirmed they would be using Renault engines for 2010. Robert Kubica was signed as Alonso’s replacement on 7 October 2009, [20] but following the shareholding deal, Kubica and his manager Daniel Morelli asked for clarification on the management structure before committing to the outfit. [21] However, in the new year, clarification was sought and Kubica was ready to commit to the outfit. [22] On 31 January, Vitaly Petrov was signed to be Kubica’s team-mate, becoming Russia’s first Formula One driver.

On January 5, Eric Boullier was announced as the new team principal at Renault, replacing Bob Bell. who will return to his former role as Technical Director. [1]

At the opening round in Bahrain. Petrov retired with broken suspension while in the pit lane on lap 14, and Kubica finished in eleventh place.

Kubica took his first podium with the team, with a second place finish in Australia. Petrov retired from the race, after spinning off the circuit.

Kubica finished the next 3 races in the points, a 4th place in Malaysia. 5th place in Shanghai. and 8th place in Barcelona. Petrov meanwhile scored his first points in Formula 1 in China, it could have been more, but he spun off whilst in fourth, yet he still recovered to bring some points home in 7th place.

After setting fast times on Thursday and the fastest time in Saturday’s practice session, – followed by P2 in qualifying, Kubica finished in 3rd place in Monaco. just 1.6 seconds behind the winner. Petrov retired in the closing laps of the race, but was still classified 13th.

Vitaly Petrov ‘s season has not lived up to Renault’s expectations, out-qualified and out-raced by Robert Kubica at almost every race weekend. However, Petrov did find considerable form at the Template:F1 GP when he outqualified Kubica for the first time and finished the race fifth. However, in Belgium.

Petrov made a mistake that ended with in a crash in the first session of qualifying when he explored the kerbs at Liege corner, claiming he was testing to see how wet they were and if they were usable on his flying lap. His failure to set a time placed him 24th on the grid, though a gearbox penalty to Sauber’s Pedro de la Rosa promoted him to 23rd. However, he went onto finish ninth, resulting in three consecutive points finishes in a row.

In Singapore. Petrov was running seventh before being pushed off by Williams’ Nico Hülkenberg. whilst Kubica was forced to make an unscheduled stop late in the race with a puncture late in the race, before going on to recover almost every place he had lost.

Rumours had tipped 2007 World Champion Kimi Räikkönen to replace Petrov for 2011. but the Finn angrily rejected claims he would join the team, stating that he was upset Renault was using his name for their own image and that their actions meant he would not race for them. [23]

2011: Involvement of Group Lotus

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