Big Names in Formula 1: Renault

renaultRenault has been the jack-of-all-trades when it comes to motoring. The French car manufacturer has had its stab as an F1 Constructor, but currently works as an engine supplier to four of the current Formula 1 teams. Renault debuted in the 1977 F1 season, and stayed active as a team until 1986. Although Chevrolet is credited with designing the first turbocharged engine, Renault is credited with bringing turbocharging to Formula 1. The RS01 made its turbo debut at the 1977 British Grand Prix. Initial problems were rampant but by the 1979 French Grand Prix, Renault marked its first win with a turbocharged car on home soil with driver Jean-Pierre Jabouille.

In 1989, Renault returned to Formula 1 as an engine supplier through a partnership with Williams. In their first year, Williams-Renault finished second in the Constructors Championship, and driver Riccardo Patrese finished third in the Drivers Championship. In 1991, Williams repeated a second finish in the Constructors Championship, and a second and third finish in the Drivers Championship with Nigel Mansell and Patrese. 1992 brought home wins all around, with Mansell and Patrese taking first and second, and Williams-Renault taking the Constructor’s title by 65 points over runner-up McLaren. Not a good year for Senna.

Renault returned to F1 as a constructor in 2000 with their purchase of Benetton. Initially results were unimpressive with Jarno Truli and Jenson Button in 2002, but in 2003 Renault F1 achieved a win with young Fernando Alonso at the Hungarian Grand Prix, the team’s first since 1983. Just one year later in 2005, Renault and Alonso won the Constructor’s and Driver’s Championships. They repeated the feat in 2006.

The 2007, 2008, and 2009 seasons were marred with controversy, first following internal spying between McLaren and Renault, then in 2008 a reportedly purposeful crash by Nelson Piquet Jr., in which Alonso profited to win in Singapore. In the midst of controversy, Red Bull made a deal with Renault to use their engines for the 2009 season. Red Bull finished the season with a second place in the Constructor’s Championship – Renault at a lowly 8th.

In 2010, Renault sought a team restructuring with Genii Capital taking the majority stake, and in 2011 Renault sold its remaining share to Lotus Cars. The team, renamed Lotus F1, still employs Renault as an engine supplier. With Renault engines, Red Bull has won the past three Driver’s and Constructor’s Championships.

Renault proves it – Formula 1 isn’t always glitz and glamour. Like all great teams in Formula 1, Renault has had its balance of hardship and greatness. From its success with turbocharging in the 70s, supplying engines to cutting-edge Williams in the early 90s, and building a championship team in the new millennium – the winning Renault legacy lives on through the engines of today.

Not a bad place to be in 2013.


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About zdoell

Graduate of Ithaca College, rowing coach, car fanatic.

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