When Renault announced its intention to revert to a traditional engine for 2004, after using its wide-angle unit last year, the critics were doubtful the change would be successful in such a short time. However, Renault has completed the first...
When Renault announced its intention to revert to a traditional engine for 2004, after using its wide-angle unit last year, the critics were doubtful the change would be successful in such a short time. However, Renault has completed the first three races of the season without engine problems and the team currently lies second in the constructors' championship behind Ferrari.
"I have said before that the team at Viry has already achieved half a miracle, building a brand new engine in just nine months, a reliable engine what's more, and making it last 750km," Renault team principal Flavio Briatore told L'Equipe. "I think we have surprised everybody with that. The second half of the miracle still needs to performed: we now have to develop this engine very quickly."
So far Renault has proved the critics wrong, and Briatore never doubted the decision, much the same as when the team opted to take up the Friday private testing session at race weekends last year. Many thought that was a strange road for Renault to take but Briatore had the last laugh.
"Once again, Renault has led people to think differently," he said. "Before, they would say "to design an engine, you need two years." It's like in 2003 with Friday testing; the top teams looked down on us, with our two hours extra practice from 08:00 until 10:00. They thought it was an option for the little teams. At the start, they called us 'track cleaners'. They weren't laughing so hard when they saw us fighting at the front, against them, after doing less testing and spending less money!"
For Renault, winning the championship may not be possible this season; certainly for the moment that achievement seems out of the reach of any team until Ferrari can be matched and beaten. But a top three position is not out of the question -- then Briatore is aiming for the top spot next year.
"I very much hope that we can go for the title in 2005," he said. "We have everything in place to make that step forward, the structures, the factories, a stable team, the right people in the right places, the technical support of the Renault group, the sponsors. Until now, we have kept to our schedule. At the end of the year, we need to be among the top three in the constructors' championship."