In Portugal we saw the second new circuit on the Formula 1 calendar in 2020. We were presented with an entertaining...
Renault F1 team
Renault F1 team
Renault entered Formula 1 again in 2016 with its own factory team. After three years of building up on the sidelines, Renault returned to the grid. They started to make progress with a ‘best of the rest’ finish in 2018. But that wasn’t backed up after being leapfrogged by McLaren in 2019.
|Team Name||Renault F1 team|
|Team Leader||Cyril Abiteboul|
|Technical Leader||Bob Bell|
Who will be driving for Renault in Formula 1?
In 2018 Renault pulled off a stunt by pulling in Daniel Ricciardo's talents and now Esteban Ocon is brought in. Ricciardo is an experienced driver who has proven himself as a driver at Red Bull Racing and a great talent who has come so far in the sport without finance. Meanwhile Ocon has come through the Mercedes garage and will be chomping at the bit.
However, the problem is the spot on the grid. The drivers are good enough for a team at the head of the field and Ricciardo is paid for that too, but the car isn't good enough yet. In 2019 the French race team was hit hard by the disappointing performance and the question is whether they can overtake McLaren.
Middle engine without title
Just like the yellow that has been found in Renault's livery in recent seasons, the French team were also at the start of the very first season with the team using the same colour on the car.
The 1.5 litre engine of the Renault-Gordini V6 (including turbo) was the cream of the crop, but even then the reliability of the Renault was lacking. Because of the yellow colours and the amount of smoke that regularly emitted from the car, the first French car was renamed 'the yellow teapot'. An image the race stable still hasn't got rid of.
With the adoption of the Frenchman Alain Prost for the 1981 season, the tide started to turn for Renault. Races are won, podiums are taken, but still the French don't get any higher than second place among the constructors in 1983. Also the last year of Prost at Renault, but not one without some controversy.
Prost is of the opinion that Renault didn't get the maximum out of the car and criticises his bosses on the assembly line. The collaboration reaches boiling point and Prost is thrown out. In 1984 the Frenchman is back on the grid, this time with the McLaren man Niki Lauda.
Exit, return and exit
While many smaller names disappeared from Formula 1 due to money problems, it was also Renault that couldn't keep its head above water. The parent company had to economise, so having an expensive Formula 1 team simply wasn't possible.
For one season, in 1986, Renault tried to survive by taking a step back and only supplying engines to teams on the grid. At the end of the 1986 season that too was over and Renault disappeared from the king's class. Three years later, the French engines are back in Formula 1, but that's all. Until 2000.
In that year the French bought over the Benetton team and renamed it Benetton Renault Sport a year later. Another year later the name Benetton disappeared completely and the Renault F1 Team was back on the grid as it was all those years ago. However, the results were not nearly as good as in the glory years, but that would only be a matter of time.
Fernando Alonso was picked in 2003 and brought a fresh perspective to the team. That year Renault finished fourth (with one victory in Hungary) and one year later it already managed to take third place among the constructors. With Alonso as the driver, both the constructors and the driver's title were taken in 2005 and 2006. After two titles Alonso gave up and moved to McLaren.
One year later Alonso returned, but Renault didn't achieve the results of the previous years again. A constant change of drivers, as has been the case in recent years, didn't improve the situation either.
After Nelson Piquet junior crashed on purpose during the Singapore Grand Prix in 2009 (to give the victory to Alonso), panic also broke out within the team. Flamboyant team boss Flavio Briatore left the team, after which it remained to be seen whether Renault could stay in Formula 1 at all.
That turned out to be the case, but it didn't take long before the situation within the team caused sponsors to leave. A deal of the shares of the team was sold and only the name of Renault (despite the fact that it no longer had any shares in the team) flaunted the car of Lotus Renault GP. One year later, that name also disappeared and the presence of the French manufacturer only remained when supplying engines to other teams.
Return to success
With the success of Red Bull Racing (and the engine of Renault in the back of those cars) and financial problems at Lotus, Renault decided to return as a factory team at the end of 2016. With the young Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer, the French team is starting the painfully slow road back to the top. Three years and a lot of driver changes later, Renault is back at the top of midfield and has two experienced drivers for 2019.
Led by Cyril Abiteboul, Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg (alias De Hulk) must take the next step: bridge the gap with the three-top teams to be able to have a shot at the title in 2021. From a sad ninth place in 2016, a slightly better P6 in 2017 and 'best of the rest' P4 in 2018, Renault's upward trend is obvious. But if the French will be able to take the step in 2019, they’ll have to prove it this season.
However, it is disappointing. Renault falls behind customer team McLaren in the championship and is almost overtaken at the end by Toro Rosso. It's not good enough and Renault know that. In 2020 it wants to retaliate, but also keeps 2021 in mind as the biggest chance for success.
Renault in 2020
It remains to be seen how Ocon will get out of his break, but the qualities of both drivers are beyond dispute.
However, Cyril Abiteboul indicated at the end of 2019 that the team is fully focused on 2021. Where most teams spread their attention and resources, Abiteboul indicated that everything will be focused on 2021. Is this a smokescreen for the competition or do we really have nothing to expect from the French in 2020?
What kind of engine does Renault drive in Formula 1?
As a factory team, Renault makes the engine itself, which is then sold to other teams on the grid. The collaboration with Red Bull Racing has come to an end in 2019, so the hybrid V6 will only be found in the cars of Renault and McLaren. Both racetracks have the same fuel supplier, BP/Castrol.
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