Renault launched its new R24 on January 29th on the island of Sicily, in the impressive surroundings of Palermo's Teatro Massimo. After an enthusiastic introduction by the mayor of Palermo, Renault chairman Patrick Faure and team principal Flavio...
Renault launched its new R24 on January 29th on the island of Sicily, in the impressive surroundings of Palermo's Teatro Massimo. After an enthusiastic introduction by the mayor of Palermo, Renault chairman Patrick Faure and team principal Flavio Briatore took to the stage in front of tiered balconies that rose six stories high to the domed, frescoed ceiling. The theme of the launch centered round the word, and the concept, of "ready": ready to race and ready to win.
"We have the drivers, the people and the resources in place to do so. After finishing fourth in last year's championship, we must look to dislodge at least one of the teams above us in 2004. The podium must be our objective every race."
Briatore is cautious about predicting if that objective will become reality but the team boss is, as ever, a force to be reckoned with. "I go into this year feeling confident," he stated. "I know that everything is in place at Viry-Ch?tillon and Enstone to give us a fast, reliable car from the very start of the season. We exceeded our targets in 2003 and in 2004 we will be hoping to do even better."
The R24 already had its track debut at Barcelona last week in testing, with Jarno Trulli shaking down the car on the first two days and Fernando Alonso setting the best time of the day on the Friday. Briatore wants more comparison against other teams before he will make any judgment if regular wins are likely. "We need to wait for the results from the first tests of the R24," he said. "And to get an idea of our rivals' competitiveness before knowing that for sure."
"I believe in Renault, I am convinced we will be fighting with the top teams. Naturally it will depend on our reliability under the new regulations with one engine per weekend but everybody at Viry is very positive. Of course, the other teams have not been standing still and I expect the level of competitiveness to be even higher."
2003 saw Alosno score his first podium, first pole position and first Grand Prix victory, the latter seeing him set a record for not only the first Spaniard to reach the top step of the podium in F1, but also the youngest ever winner of a race. He is remarkably objective about his rate of success, all in his second season in F1 and first in a competitive car after debuting with Minardi.
"I will never forget such a fantastic season and winning a Grand Prix for the first time," he recalled. "However, things never stand still in F1 and as soon as the last race was over I was starting to wonder what the new car would be capable of."
"For any racing driver you have to improve from last year. For me it will be difficult after four podiums and my first win but we have a good team and I'm sure we will at least be as competitive as last year. I have a long term relationship with this team and right now there is nothing that would make me want to look elsewhere."
Test driver Franck Montagny takes on the role full time after being part time tester last year and winning the Formula Nissan championship. "For a French driver it is a privilege to be in this position with the Renault F1 team," he commented. "I have worked very hard since the beginning of my career to get into F1 one day. The team has placed a lot of trust in me and my work will be particularly important, be it testing tyres or new parts. I am determined to meet the challenge and not disappoint."
"The R24 includes some obvious fresh ideas, such as new gearbox and redesigned suspension and the new engine benefits from much improved packaging. But our main objective has been to make improvements to every technical part."
After a tech briefing by Bell and head of engine Rob White, and the afternoon's interviews, the attention shifted to the nearby Piazza Castelnuovo, where first Trulli and then Alonso thrilled the massed crowds with runs of the car on the streets. The roar of the engine was shattering in such close quarters and judging by the roars of approval from the crowd, Palermo was happy to welcome the team to its city. Renault is ready for action indeed.
Chassis: Moulded carbon fibre and aluminium honeycomb composite monocoque, manufactured by the Renault F1 Team and designed for maximum strength and stiffness with minimum weight. Engine installed as a fully-stressed member.
Front suspension: Carbon fibre top and bottom wishbones operate an inboard titanium rocker via a pushrod system. This is connected to a torsion bar and damper units which are mounted at the front of the monocoque.
Rear suspension: Carbon fibre top and bottom wishbones operating vertically-mounted torsion bars and horizontally-mounted damper units mounted on the top of the gearbox casing.
Transmission: Six-speed semi-automatic gearbox with one reverse gear.
Fuel system: Kevlar-reinforced rubber fuel cell provides reduced risk of fire and is mounted behind cockpit in chassis monocoque.
Cooling system: Separate oil and water radiators located in the car's sidepods and cooled using airflow from the car's forward motion.
Electrical: Renault F1 Team developed chassis electronics and software control items such as gearbox, and the system links to engine management system (Magneti Marelli).
Braking system: Carbon fibre discs and pads (Hitco); calipers by AP Racing.
Cockpit: Removable driver’s seat made of anatomically formed carbon composite, with six-point harness seat belt. Steering wheel has gear change and clutch paddles attached.
Car dimensions and weight
Front track: 1,450mm
Rear track: 1,400mm
Wheel base: 3,100mm
Overall length: 4,600mm
Overall height: 950mm
Overall width: 1,800mm
Overall weight: 605kg including driver, camera and ballast
72° 'V' angle with optimum integration in the new R24 chassis.
Atmospheric 3-litre V10 engine.
Mass optimised for the required reliability.
Reliability of more than 750km with a performance gain relative to the RS23.