Interview with Jean-Jacques His

Jean-Jacques His is Managing Director of Renault F1 France. How do you feel seeing rival engine manufacturers learning from your innovations at Renault? It might seem paradoxical, but I'm always pleased. Every time one of our rivals learns ...

Jean-Jacques His is Managing Director of Renault F1 France.

How do you feel seeing rival engine manufacturers learning from your innovations at Renault?

It might seem paradoxical, but I'm always pleased. Every time one of our rivals learns something by either imitating or copying us, I tell myself our choices must have been right. The competition doesn't copy you if you're not working along the right lines.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the engine's wide v-angle design?

It provides a notable improvement in car performance because it is lower, and the lower the engine sits the better the car will perform through corners that impose significant lateral acceleration. However, the option of a V10 with a very wide v-angle has its disadvantages too. The significant vibrations it creates are detrimental to the reliability of the driveline if you're simply content to make do with what I would term 'traditional' solutions. You're always looking for an extremely rigid chassis-engine-gearbox package, but with such a compact engine it can be difficult to achieve the required degree of rigidity in a natural way. We have had to look at artificial techniques, some of which were already on the 2001 interim car. The daring technological choice of an open v-angle also led to changes in the engine's acoustics, and optimising cylinder filling required an intensive development programme.

How successful do you feel the design was in its first year of competition?

The solutions we have introduced to integrate the engine and chassis are still a compromise. Some will be fine-tuned in the course of 2002 while other more radical solutions will only see the light of day in 2003. Our priority in 2001 was development, so it was vital to finish races with a view to favouring the development of the engine's moving parts.

How complicated is it to design a Formula One engine and how long is the process?

A Formula One engine evolves quickly, but it is also part of an ongoing process. It is therefore difficult to define a beginning and an end. Certain ideas are taken on-board once they have matured. You could say that the very wide v-angle engine was born in the year 2000, but other ideas have been added to make its design lighter and stronger and to enable it to rev higher. Some of these date back to Renault Sport's previous Formula One experience and some will be used again on other projects in the future.

How will this year's engine relate to the 2001 unit? This year's engine will feature new concepts. It is not a completely new engine and it will use the same architectural philosophy as last year, but there are major improvements for 2002. In 2001, we focused on lowering the centre of gravity of the power unit and this concept was developed throughout the year. The latest evolution - the one you will see this year - keeps the philosophy behind that initial project and makes the best use of the experience obtained with the previous engine.

How much development is planned on the engine for the 2002 season?

We plan to introduce three significant engine evolutions in the course of the season, evolutions that will bring performance gains. On top of that, as is the case every year, the engine will add improvements at practically every Grand Prix.

How have you concentrated on improving reliability?

Early in 2001, our work was principally geared to ensuring engine reliability. It would have been illusory to work on performance before we were capable of finishing Grands Prix. The second part of last season was given over to a progressive build up of power and reliability.

What demands does the chassis team put on you in the design of the engine?

The 2001 season saw the development of a new generation of engines featuring a highly innovative structure. This was in response to the brief dictated by its integration in the chassis. This took time but I believe the results obtained in the final Grands Prix of the year demonstrated the degree of performance we had reached as well as the level of the work achieved by the entire team.

How would you rate the Renault engine against your rivals on the grid?

I would even say we should be in the wake of the top three teams. Our objective for 2002 is to fine-tune the concepts developed in 2001, to produce a reliable engine with a high level of performance. In 2003, we ought to be on a par with the top teams.

Why do you think the Renault project will succeed?

Because the teams at Enstone and Viry-Châtillon work very well together, because Formula One is part of Renault's genetic make up and lastly, and indeed above all, because Renault has acquired significant expertise in innovative development, not only in Formula One but also in relation to the everyday road car.

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Series Formula 1