Interview with Patrick Faure

Patrick Faure was born in France on the 12th of May 1946, and was influenced in his early life by his father, the mayor of Cahors and a government minister. He grew up in Paris, studied at the country's most famous business school and has...

Patrick Faure was born in France on the 12th of May 1946, and was influenced in his early life by his father, the mayor of Cahors and a government minister. He grew up in Paris, studied at the country's most famous business school and has developed a long and successful career with Renault.

A man of culture, interested in literature and theatre, the competitive fires nevertheless run deep, from a passion for rugby to his long-term commitment to motorsport. An integral part of the Renault Sport program, which amassed six consecutive World Championships in the 1990s, Faure is the driving force behind Renault's full works return in 2002.

As Chairman and CEO of Renault F1, is it a dream come true to return to Formula One as a constructor?
That's not exactly it. When Renault announced in 1996 that it was pulling out of Formula 1, we said that we would be back when we had come up with some truly innovative technology, an engine of a daring design that could win races. Now we believe that we hold all the necessary trump cards/key strengths to do a job we'd left unfinished: win a world championship title with a 100% Renault team.

How would success as a constructor compare to success as an engine supplier?
Our return to Formula 1 with a 100% Renault car will generate much wider media coverage than our wins when we were merely supplying engines. Our participation will not be partly overshadowed by Williams or Benetton, who were our partners during the 1990s. From March 2002, our wins will be 100% Renault's, but so will our defeats! So it is vital that we should move towards the top of the grid very quickly and start achieving convincing results in 2002, with a few podiums.

What does it mean to you to see Renault leading innovation in Formula One?
The very essence of F1 is the quest for innovation and new technologies. In order to win races nowadays, avant-garde procedures have become essential. Renault has always been at the forefront in this respect: first with turbocharged engines, then with pneumatic valve timing, then with a new generation of normally-aspirated V10 engines. Now we have broken through new technological barriers that will enable us to start going for wins again.

How much personal commitment have you put into the project?
When a company like Renault commits to Formula One, it's with the intention of winning. To achieve that goal, we have to harness all the means at our disposal. The company's investment means that everyone involved must be totally committed. I feel I have taken on a personal challenge and my will to win is shared by all the company's staff.

How long have the plans taken to come to fruition?
Our decision to return to F1 in 2002 was taken more quickly than we had expected. We only had 2001 to finish putting our team together, both technically and in organizing the two entities.

In retrospect, how do you view the decision to run as Benetton last year and test the new engine in the public eye?
You know, in Formula 1, the best kind of experience comes from the actual race track. The only way to really make progress is to compete against others. In that way you can tell straight away where you stand. When we launched the car last year, we clearly stated that 2001 was going to be a year of adjustment. That enabled us to try out new solutions on the RS21 engine, which showed throughout the season that it had the necessary attributes to take a huge leap forward when the development was completed.

You have been at Renault since 1979. Do any of your experiences come close to seeing the R202 launched?
In my 23 years with Renault, I have had a great deal of satisfaction and a few worries, in motor sport and in other areas, but it's true that seeing the R202 leave the starting grid at the Australian Grand Prix in March will be one of the major events of my career. I can't compare it to launching Mégane, which I had the pleasure of doing as head of Renault's Sales and Marketing Department, and of course winning our first title as engine supplier in partnership with Williams in 1992.

It's clear that you really love motor sport. How important is that in your job of leading the Renault F1 team?
I think it's vital to be a keen motor racing enthusiast in order to head up a Formula 1 team. There are so many risks involved, so many unknowns, that in order to put your reputation on the line you have to have the slight touch of madness that makes for a true enthusiast! But that never stops me taking a cool-headed look at the situation and keeping a constant eye on what's going well and what needs further attention.

How soon are you hoping to see real success - a victory?
This year we should be among the leaders, both on the starting grid and in the race. After that, in 2003 and 2004, we should be in a position to win races and compete for the world championship. It is important to remember that the current top teams took years to start winning races and therefore titles. For us, it's going to be a difficult, but daring challenge.

Is Renault determined to win the world championship for the glory of the company as much as for publicity?
Renault has taken up all kinds of challenges over the years, from the Renault Frères' first win in a road race in 1899 to our six consecutive world championship titles, always staying ahead of the field and seeking out new technical solutions through motor sport. That's why we say Renault has Formula 1 in its blood - it's an integral part of our history.

But we must also acknowledge that nowadays F1 is a fantastic way of achieving prominence on the world stage that can underpin expansion in countries where manufacturers want to sell more vehicles. It's not by chance that all the leading manufacturers have decided to become involved in Formula 1 racing. To sum up, the way I see it, the sporting challenge and determination to boost Renault's reputation and brand image are not contradictory, they're complementary.

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Series Formula 1
Teams Williams , Benetton