New season, new challenge
24 March 2011 –As the 2011 FIA Formula One World Championship season gets underway, Renault also embarks on a new challenge. From this year onwards, Renault will be represented at the highest level of motorsport by its F1 sporting division, Renault Sport F1.
Based at Renault’s traditional racing headquarters in Viry-Châtillon in the south of Paris, RSF1 is responsible for the design, build and ultimately integration of the RS27 V8 engines to the three partner teams, Red Bull Racing, Lotus Renault GP and Team Lotus.
The change in policy, in expanding its activities to three teams, underlines how important Grand Prix racing is to the brand. F1 provides not only a huge global stage, but a proving ground for technology at the highest level.
The three teams supplied by Renault – 25 per cent of the field – will be serviced by six engineers and technicians at each Grand Prix, with the support of deputy managing director (technical) Rob White and track operations manager, Rémi Taffin. Jean-François Caubet oversees the operation in his capacity as managing director, with RSF1 President Bernard Rey the crucial link between RSF1 and Renault’s management committee.
- Approx 250 people work within the Viry-Châtillon building
- Approximately 5,200 parts make up each engine
- In 2010 Renault engines secured nine wins with Red Bull Racing and a total of 661 points between the two Red Bull and the two Renault F1 Team drivers
- A Renault engine won its first Grand Prix in 1979, the French Grand Prix, with Jean-Pierre Jabouille
- Renault has powered seven drivers to the world title, Nigel Mansell becoming the first in 1992, with Sebastian Vettel sealing the title last year. Alain Prost (1993), Michael Schumacher (1995), Damon Hill (1996), Jacques Villeneuve (1997) and Fernando Alonso (2005 and 2006) have also been victorious with a Renault-engined car
- Renault has also secured nine constructors’ titles, six of which were won consecutively between 1992 and 1997
Quick focus on…engine regulations
- F1 engines can be a maximum of 2.4 litres, have eight cylinders in a 90-degree formation, with two inlet and two exhaust valves per cylinder
- Turbo-charging isn’t permitted – all engines must be normally aspirated
- Minimum weight is 95kg
- The rev limit is 18,000rpm
- Each driver may use no more than eight engines during the season. If a driver uses more than eight engines he will drop ten places on the starting grid at the first race the ninth engine is used
Q&A with Jean-François Caubet, managing director of Renault Sport F1
This will be Renault Sport F1’s first year in F1. What are your thoughts?
It’s really exciting times for Renault. Supplying three different teams, each at the pinnacle of their respective areas of the grid – Red Bull Racing as the world champions, Lotus Renault GP as double world championship winners and Team Lotus as clearly the best newcomers of last season – gives lots of cross marketing opportunities, plus a brilliant stage for the competitive performance of the RS27 engine.
We have got a clear vision of what we want to do within F1. It’s an ambitious yet well-thought out strategy that is very much in line with the main objectives of the Renault brand. There are three main aims now: one, use F1 as a showcase to demonstrate the performance of Renault technology; two, use F1 as a platform to develop and promote technology relevant to road cars, which will become even more important with the proposed 2013 engine regulations; and three, to manage costs effectively.
Will Renault be able to supply three teams effectively this year?
Absolutely, and it’s been very favourably received by the team back in Viry-Châtillon. It is a great strength of the team in that we are able to react to situations very quickly and adapt. Supplying a third team is a challenge but everyone has embraced it and we do not anticipate that the levels of service we provide will diminish in any way. Each team of engineers works separately from the other teams so the management is very simple.
What is the goal for Renault this year within F1?
That’s simple. We want to win with our partners, or to give them the best possible chance of winning.
Q&A with Rob White, deputy managing director (technical)
Three teams will use the RS27 in 2011, how will you deal with the extra workload?
It’s great news for the whole team in Viry-Châtillon. Developing engines is a bit like going back to what Renault knows best so supplying a third team gives us the opportunity reinforce our position within the sport and to be in a better position to understand what teams need from engine suppliers in the current climate. Back at the factory it’s been embraced very warmly as it provides new opportunities for us, it allows other team members to go to the track to see how it all works, which in turn brings broader understanding and knowledge to the company.
The blown exhausts have taken on a new importance this year and we’re seeing a lot of development in this area. Is this something Renault has had a hand in developing, and how does it impact on the performance of the engine?
We should clarify that according to the technical regulations, the exhausts are defined as part of the bodywork, and more importantly are designed and manufactured by the teams to take account of the respective car environment. Of course Renault Sport F1 supplies a specification to describe the engine requirements of the exhausts; and we work closely with our teams to develop the solution for each car.
Historically, the exhaust system has been a way to optimise the performance of the engine, but there’s always a compromise between gaining power with the exhausts without affecting the aerodynamics. However last year the balance between gains and loss in this area was redressed as teams used the exhaust gases in conjunction with blown floors to improve aero efficiency. This year, the flow of the exhaust gases has become even more critical with the ban on the double diffusers, so we’re able to revisit the system.
Changing the outlets does impact on the engine performance so we work very closely with each team in the initial design stages. Once the direction has been determined we work together to make sure the team can get the best overall car performance.
Will you be supplying a KERS system to all your partners?
We have the capacity to supply KERS system components to all our partners. The systems tested over the winter with Lotus Renault GP and Red Bull Racing are evolutions of the KERS raced in 2009 by the Renault F1 Team, and tested by Red Bull Racing. At the time, the KERS project was led by the team at Enstone, Lotus Renault’s HQ, and in 2011 Enstone retains overall responsibility for the system. For 2011, the engine team at Viry has taken on a broader role including a larger supply perimeter. We provide a central point of contact for each team for the KERS system on the engine, but its integration into each car and its operation is the responsibility of the respective teams.
We work closely with all concerned, and we’re already well advanced with Lotus Renault GP and Red Bull Racing. We would be happy to do the same for Team Lotus as and when they are ready to run KERS.
Red Bull Racing: Paul Monaghan, Head of Car Engineering
The partnership with Renault has developed into a formidable one, with all at Viry supporting our expectations to deliver a high level of performance. As we’ve got to know each other the processes and procedures have become more efficient and it’s one of the key reasons we’ve done as well as we have over the past few years: as we’ve grown, Renault has delivered what we needed at the rate we needed it. With the creation of Renault Sport F1, it’s looking even more promising this season as their operation will be even more focussed towards its partners. We’re setting off with high expectations after the double success of last season, but Renault Sport F1’s goals are just as ambitious, which makes it such an effective partnership.
Lotus Renault GP: Eric Boullier, managing director
The relationship we have with Renault is a long and successful one. With the R31, we decided to take an aggressive approach and the engineers from Viry have once again risen to the challenge. We often say that everybody in the team has been working very hard over the winter to prepare for the new season, but it’s never been so true as now. I’m hopeful we can achieve great things together this year and pick up where we left off last year – challenging the top teams.
Team Lotus: Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer
Last year we set out to be the best of the new teams and we achieved this goal. This year we’re aiming to challenge the established teams. The Renault partnership is crucial in this regard, a world championship-winning engine, experienced technical staff and huge know-how of how to succeed at the highest levels of the sport. Of course I’m familiar with a lot of the personnel from my time with the team and I’m looking forward to re-establishing these connections.