Tag Archives: Renault

Renault confirms Palmer for 2017

Renault Sport has confirmed that Jolyon Palmer will stay on with the team as Nico Hulkenberg’s team mate in 2017.

Kevin Magnussen meanwhile is set to move to Haas on a two-year deal.

I’m over the moon to be racing with Renault Sport Formula One Team for a second season and I can’t wait to reward the team’s faith in me on track,” said Palmer. “Having worked out of Enstone since 2015 I can fully appreciate the development of the infrastructure this year. This means I share the excitement of the team looking to 2017 and our new car.

For me, it’s been a steep learning curve driving in Formula 1 and I know that I am performing better than ever, and that there’s still more to come. There is tremendous drive and enthusiasm in Enstone and Viry looking to next year and I am honoured to be part of this.”

Renault Sport chairman Jerome Stoll said: “Jolyon has shown his hunger to develop with us as the team grows and we have been impressed with his increasingly strong performances on track as the season has progressed. We are confident that the combination of Jolyon and Nico Hülkenberg offers a very promising driving force to meet our goals.

Jolyon understands the team’s spirit and motivates everyone he works with. The line-up of Jolyon and Nico harnesses the benefits of continuity and fresh blood. I am sure that having Nico as a team-mate will help push Jolyon to greater achievements. We thank Kevin Magnussen for his efforts in 2016 as he has done a great job for us this year. We wish him all the best for 2017 and beyond.”

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Renault was “a bit blind,” admits Abiteboul

Renault Sport F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul says that the company has “seen the light” and now understands what it has to do in order to catch rivals Mercedes and Ferrari.

Abiteboul says that the works team is already in better shape than he anticipated at the end of last season, when the deal to take over Lotus was being finalised.

“Frankly if you had told me in Abu Dhabi at the end of November that we would be in this shape today I would definitely have signed for it,” he told this writer. “It’s a lot down to execution now. We know what we have to do, and we have to do it properly and carefully and in order.

“There is substantial work going on in every department back in France and also in Enstone. I think we know what we have to do. That is the big difference with before, I think before we were a bit blind, and now we’ve seen the light.”

Abiteboul says that the company staff are more motivated than when Renault was supplying customers, citing as an example how quickly new parts were sent from France to Barcelona after problems early in testing.

“We were capable of having a fantastic logistic chain and I would like to thank all those in Viry-Chatillon, because we managed to get parts from our dyno to the engine overnight.

“Even though we do all we can in order to honour our contracts, when you work for your factory team or you work for your customer, it’s different. In my opinion there’s this sort of extra bit that you can extract from your employees. This sort of extra effort that F1 commands, particularly with the current regulations.

“As a small example, on February 4th we had our drivers in the factory in Viry-Chatillon. It was the first time in a while that we had Renault drivers there. They are good blokes, Kevin and Jolyon, but at that stage they had done nothing. And I can tell you the buzz they created in the factory was amazing.

“Nothing against Sebastian Vettel for instance, we love Sebastian and all the things that we have done together. But a Renault driver is different, a Renault team is different, a Renault car is different. So in my opinion it’s going to give an extra boost of energy to everyone, so that we can do the job the way we should have done it.”

Abiteboul says that consultant Mario Ilien is having an impact: “He’s constantly in the loop, but not just Mario, Ilmor is giving us the ability to test even more solutions than we would without them.”

Despite the focus on the works team Abiteboul says it’s important to have Red Bull Racing also putting miles on the same power unit.

“Frankly it was not an obvious thing to do, after all the things we went through in the last two years, to continue the relationship with them. But I continue to believe it was the right thing to do for us strategically. Now we will have to see if it makes sense to continue that in the next few years. But as we have a big job to catch up right now, it makes complete sense, so I’m very happy with the continuity of that relationship.”


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How Genii sold Lotus to Renault for £1

Renault paid just £1 to take over Lotus F1 when the deal was finalised just before Christmas, an indication of just how keen the previous owners were to find new funding and an investor who could pay off past debts.

Company accounts also confirm that Genii Capital and its affiliate Gravity Motorsports have retained 10% ownership of the restructured organisation, and waived £98.2m of shareholder loans to the team.

The purchase was a complicated arrangement that involved Genii first purchasing 6,744,444 shares from Whiterock Alliance Ltd, to add to the 60,700,000 it already had. Having established full ownership of the share capital it then sold 90% to Grigny (UK) Ltd – the company that previously ran the F1 team in its Benetton and Renault days – while retaining the remaining 10%.

Grigny is a subsidiary of Renault, and in fact its immediate owner is Renault Developpement Industriel et Commercial, or RDIC. Grigny has been in existence since 1977, and between December 1979 and March 2000 it was known as Benetton (UK) Ltd, the start even pre-dating the fashion company’s involvement in F1. When Renault acquired the Benetton F1 team the French manufacturer continued to own it under the Grigny name until it was passed on to Genii.

In the V8 era Renault used Grigny for leasing KERS systems to its customer teams, generating some £7m in 2013. That changed in 2014 when energy recovery became an integral part of the power unit, and Grigny earned just £432,000 from “supplying engineering and technical services to Renault Sport F1,” according to its most recent accounts.

Having almost been dormant over the past year Grigny is now once again in frontline use by Renault as the immediate owner of the F1 team.


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Renault willing to supply Red Bull – but Horner still eyeing Honda

Renault Sport boss Cyril Abiteboul says he would be happy to continue with Red Bull Racing next season despite the uncomfortable relationship between the two parties – but no decision has been made as yet.

Most signs still point towards Red Bull ultimately opting to stick with its current partner, albeit potentially running the engines unbranded next year.

However RBR team boss Christian Horner has not yet given up on getting a second supply from Honda, despite the Japanese manufacturer indicating in recent weeks that time had run out. Red Bull remains convinced that Honda can make big steps next year, after its disastrous first season.

The biggest hurdle to such a deal remains the veto on the identity of Honda customers that is held by McLaren, and which clashes with an agreement between Honda, the FIA and FOM that it would extend to a second team in season two, if requested to do so.

Ecclestone remains convinced that his agreement trumps any between Honda and McLaren, and he confirmed to this writer in Brazil that he was “still talking to Honda” on Red Bull’s behalf.

If Honda does ultimately fall through then Red Bull’s only hope would be to continue with Renault, despite the ongoing friction between the two parties. The disappointing performance of the upgraded engine used by Daniel Ricciardo was just the latest frustration for RBR.

Nevertheless Renault is prepared to look to a brighter future.

“I’ve always been clear that there was no appetite to burn bridges with Red Bull,” Abiteboul told me. “Clearly I’m not going to confirm anything for now – when we will be in a position to announce something, we will do so, obviously.

“In my opinion it’s clear that we want to change things, and we want to be pragmatic and opportunistic also in our approach. And if there is a continuation of the Red Bull relationship, it will be for a good reason, and there can be a mix of very good reasons. I would encourage everyone to look forwards rather than to look backwards – to look to the positive impact that it could bring Renault, rather than the negative impact that it could have had in the past.”

The issue of running the engine unbranded is a complex one, given that manufacturers are in the sport as works teams or as suppliers to customers in order to generate PR.

“As long as it good PR, and you could argue that both from a product quality perspective but also from a PR management perspective with our partners. But I don’t want to go further than that.”

Abiteboul insists that the hefty chunk of cash that would come from Red Bull is not the key reason why Renault would remain involved with its long time partner in addition to its new arrangement with Lotus.

“Very often sales in F1 are at a loss. I think what is fair to say is that we have a huge amount of work ahead in terms of engine catch-up, and I think that it’s better to have a couple of teams rather than just one team, for the very simple reason that it multiples the number of miles that you do, and therefore the learning curve.”

That same philosophy could equally be applied to Honda. Renault appears to be last resort for Red Bull, but Abiteboul says he’s not worried about the prospect that in the end, RBR may yet go elsewhere.

“Frankly I know the discussion that we’ve had together, I don’t know the discussion with other people. Our life as I said could be maybe improved slightly, or it could be positive or not for Renault if we continue to work with Red Bull. If we don’t, it’s not a drama.

“So frankly I’m not paying too much attention to all the rumours of Honda. There have been so many that if I had to stop reading every time there was a rumour I would be suffocating right now!”


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White expects “significant performance step” by Renault

The 2014 season was a difficult one for Renault Sport and its chief technical officer Rob White, but the company has made big changes for this season both in terms of the organisation and the V6 power unit and its associated systems. In a Q&A provided by Renault White explained what has been changed within the constraints of the FIA’s token system.

Q: What are the challenges going into the second year of the power units?

“Year two of a new engine is always difficult. The 2015 power unit project was started six months before the 2014 units took to the track, ie before we had any significant experience of the technology. Then we also need to consider the issues arising during the season. It creates a need to be both forward thinking and reactive. Splitting resources between projects is a delicate balancing act, in the short, mid and long term. While certain decisions can be taken upstream, a number of design decisions were taken quite late in the day, in order to benefit from the experience of the 2014 power unit. The result is a power unit that is very different to its predecessor.”

Q: What are the principal changes to the Renault Energy F1 for the 2015 season?

“We have made some fundamental changes to gain performance and reliability. We have upgraded every system and subsystem, with items that will give the most performance prioritised. The principal changes involve the internal combustion engine, turbocharger and battery. The ICE will have a new combustion chamber, exhaust system concept and variable trumpets, as permitted by the 2015 regulations. The compressor is more efficient, while the energy recovery systems are able to deal with more severe usage. The 2014 unit was already well placed in its centre of gravity, however we have tidied up the packaging to give greater ease of integration into the chassis. Additionally many systems and functions have been rationalised and simplified to further ease the task. In short, there are very few carry over pieces between the 2014 and 2015 power units.”

Q: This year the power unit is broken down into ‘tokens’. How does this system work?

“This year there are regulatory limits to do with ‘token’ spend that determine the number of changes we can make. The power unit is divided into sections and then subassemblies associated to it. The total number of tokens within the power unit is equal to 66. Five out of the 66 tokens are not available for change as they are frozen. An engine manufacturer is able to select 32 token areas, or 48% of the engine, which he would like to change. As the technology gets more mature next year and beyond there will be fewer and fewer tokens available to spend. Clearly the juggling act we need to perform is which areas of the power unit are the most worthwhile to attack for performance reasons.”

Q: How has Renault decided to allocate its tokens?

“We have used the majority of the tokens for the first race and our use of tokens during the course of the season will be relatively modest. It then becomes a matter of strategy about when you introduce the remaining tokens; whether to introduce at the start of the season when the technology is relatively immature but could give greater relative performance, or later in the season when the part has had more testing miles but the impact on performance will be potentially less. We can still make changes for reliability under the sporting regulations. We have therefore prioritised token spend to make as much headway as possible with performance.”

Q: What are your aims for 2015?

“First and foremost we need to run reliably, be quick and closer to front. Our honest expectation is that we will make a decent improvement but it is difficult to quantify the gain relative to our competitors who will also progress. What we can say is that we are on course to make a significant performance step and resolve the principal reliability weaknesses by the time we get to the first race.”

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Renault Sport confident that reorganisation will pay off

Renault Sport managing director Cyril Abiteboul is confident that a restructuring of the organisation will pay dividends in 2015.

After a difficult debut with the V6 turbo – which nevertheless saw three victories for Daniel Ricciardo – Renault will supply only Red Bull and Toro Rosso this year, unless Caterham is able to survive in some form.

“F1 constantly moves forward at a very fast rate,” said Abiteboul. “The sport evolves, technology evolves and the competition never sleeps so Viry needs to evolve at the same rate. Viry needed a refresh. We did not suffer from a lack of resources or finances in 2014, it was simply that the resources were not joined up in time or used to their optimum.

“In the short gap between seasons we have therefore taken a number of steps forward. First and foremost we have implemented a new organisational structure. There are a number of changes in this new structure. I’ll underline three of them to indicate where the focus will be in 2015.

“This new structure will emphasise the need for perpetual change and adaptation within Renault Sport F1. This will be achieved through two new streams led by Rob White and Jean-Paul Gousset. As Chief Technical Officer, Rob will use his in-depth knowledge of Renault Sport F1 to set the strategy and road map for the acquisition, development and utilisation of technical skills within the company. Naturally this will always be with a close eye on our F1 project.

“In parallel, F1 performance is driven by human performance. Jean-Paul, who was previously head of production, is now appointed as Organization Performance Officer, and becomes responsible for organisational matters, procedures and protocols, from the small details to the large changes that together create and harness the racing spirit we want to see in Viry-Châtillon.

“Another substantial change is the creation of the Development Department, headed by Naoki Tokunaga. In addition to overseeing the Engineering Department, which is still managed by Jean-Philippe Mercier, Naoki will be directly responsible for Performance and Reliability Groups. These two groups are tasked with clear responsibilities as their name suggests, and allow us to get closer to the organisational model of F1 teams nowadays. This should build natural bridges and synergies with our customers.

“The last noticeable change is that Rémi Taffin will now oversee all track and factory operations, including assembly and dynos, in addition to continuing to look after the track operations. Regrouping all operations under one person aims to bring the excellent spirit of the track to the factory, simplifies our lines of communications, allows us to simplifies our lines of communications, allowing us to respond to changes or needs more quickly and ensure overall quality control and cost efficiency towards our internal and external customers.

“It is still very early to see the direct effects but all the changes are made for long term gain. We should start to see the full impact in development by the mid-season with greater flexibility, dynamism and efficiency across all our operations.”

Abiteboul remains confident that Renault can do better than the three victories achieved with Red Bull last season.

“We knew what we had to do over the winter and we know what we have achieved. We believe we have made a very big step in performance and will be more reliable. We do not know where the others will be: we may not have erased all the gaps, but we are confident that we have gone a long way to making up the deficit of last season.

“Our objective is to close the gap as much as possible and give Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso a more competitive car on most circuits, independently of their characteristics and sensitivities.”

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Renault backing search for engine noise solution

Renault’s top F1 engine man Rob White says that the French manufacturer is fully behind efforts to address the noise issue.

Renault has already done some work of its own, although the first on-track testing is being conducted by Mercedes in Barcelona this week.

“We’re fully engaged and involved in the work that’s going on, led by the FIA,” said White. “Mercedes have shared their initial results from the dyno test of this device, the FIA have got some acoustic consultants who have visited us and have had access to our existing dyno test results, including sound measurement. We’re doing some further work at our factory. I would say we’re in an exploratory phase, trying to respond to the subject.

“Obviously we’re also conscious of the fact that with respect to noise the power unit it doing what it says on the tin. It uses less energy, it does so more efficiently, so there’s less falling out the back as noise.

“But of course the Strategy Group has identified the need to try and so something to improve the perception of the noise, and that’s what everybody is currently working on. The next steps, we’ve got work at the factory, we’ve got work with our various teams underway.”

Regarding what the Mercedes test might lead to he said: “We’ll see what that gives and we’ll see what the next step after that will be. It’s going as quickly as it reasonably can for the time being.”


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