‘Renault’s building phase should end in 2018’

Date published: January 20 2018

2018 will mark the final year of Renault’s building phase as they look to become a championship-winning team.

Having purchased the Lotus team at the start of 2016, Renault set about putting foundations into place for a championship quest.

And managing director Cyril Abiteboul says this year’s campaign will mark the last year in that building phase.

“2017 was a year of progression and 2018 has to be the same, another year of progression, another year of construction,” he told Crash.net.

“By the end of the year we want to say the construction phase is over, it was a three-year phase from 2016 to 2018, and now the next phase will be about attacking the top teams.

“We need to accept that we can’t be perfect everywhere and things take time but at the same time we have to show we are in the right trajectory.”

Aside from racing their works team, Renault are also an engine supplier with multi-championship winning team McLaren joining their line-up in 2018.

Abiteboul believes it is a good move for Renault’s works team as it sets a benchmark.

“It is a great responsibility but also a great opportunity as I anticipate we’ll be compared to McLaren but is it an opportunity to benchmark our car and drivers to McLaren and assess the progress of the organisation.

“Frankly, working with the best is also an opportunity to work with the best.”

McLaren ‘not at all’ worried about Renault reliability

Date published: January 20 2018

Although Renault had a torrid time in the latter half of last season with the reliability of their power units, McLaren are confident they’ve taken measures to resolve it.

Swapping to Renault power ahead of this year’s championship, McLaren are hoping for more pace and better reliability than what they had with Honda.

The latter, though, wasn’t Renault’s strong suit in the second half of last year’s championship so much so that Toro Rosso and Renault engaged in a public war of words.

Despite their troubles, which also affected Red Bull and the Renault’s work team, McLaren racing director Eric Boullier believe the French manufacturer will get it right this season.

He told France’s Auto Hebdo: “Not at all. Renault has taken the necessary measures and made great efforts to make progress in this area.”

McLaren have also had to do their part, adapting their car to the Renault power unit.

“The employees voluntarily worked throughout the holidays,” Boullier added.

“Everyone has taken the news about the transition to Renault very positively, and we are working perfectly with our new supplier already,”

As for going up against Red Bull and Renault with the same engine, Boullier denied that it ramps up the pressure, saying it is instead motivating.

“We do not feel additional pressure. On the contrary.

“The team is motivated by the fact that we will have two strong rivals in Red Bull and Renault. McLaren is in formula one to perform, not for the numbers,” he said.

Renault ‘happy’ for Sirotkin, Kubica

Date published: January 18 2018

Williams may have signed Sergey Sirotkin and Robert Kubica but Renault are seeking a little pat on the back for their contribution toward their careers.

Williams completed the 2018 driver line-up when, earlier this week, that announced that former Renault test driver Sirotkin would race alongside Lance Stroll this season.

Aside from confirming the Russian rookie’s debut, the team also signed Kubica as their official reserve driver with the Polish driver having initially sought a comeback drive with Renault.

And Renault are happy with the part they played in getting both drivers to where they are today.

“If you think about the Williams situation we had some connection to the two possible options Robert and Sergey from 2017,” Renault MD Cyril Abiteboul told Crash.net.

“I’m happy to see drivers we had connections with and those that we contributed to raising their profile and raising their skills which has created opportunities to drive for another team.

“For Sergey, it shows Renault can influence the life of a driver and then if they can make it into Formula 1.

“I will be extremely happy because we were very impressed as a team by his ability to understand the car and the dynamics of the car as well as developing the car as it was his role with testing opportunities. He certainly has the knowledge and in my opinion also the talent.

“For Robert, I hope he finds a programme that is adequate with his ambitions and his abilities.”

McLaren: Renault decision made just in time

Date published: January 18 2018

Acknowledging that the Renault and Honda engines are “very different”, McLaren’s technical director Tim Goss says the team made the decision to swap “just in time.”

This season McLaren will race Renault engines after calling it quits on an unsuccessful three-year partnership with Honda.

After months of speculation, the swap was eventually confirmed at the end of September with Goss saying it left McLaren with “just” enough time to adapt their 2018 chassis to the new engine.

“The Renault architecture is very different,” Goss told Autosport.

“You have two fundamental engine architectures out there. You have the Mercedes/Honda approach, and you have got the Ferrari/Renault approach.

“Essentially the difference comes down to where the turbocharger sits.

“The Mercedes/Honda approach is you have the compressor on the front of the engine, the turbine on the back of the engine and the MGU-H sat in the middle of the V.

“The Ferrari/Renault approach is that you have got the compressor sat at the back of the engine, the MGU-H behind it and the turbine behind that.

“They require a very different approach to your chassis and your gearbox, and now we have had recent experience of both we can see there are pros and cons of both.

“There are things I love about the Renault approach and there are things that frustrate me a little bit, but in the end we were fortunate that the decision to move from one engine to another was made just in time.

“It couldn’t have been made any later.”

He revealed that McLaren were forced into making several changes, not only to the chassis but also the gearbox and cooling.

Goss, though, reckons they succeeded in adapting without any “significant compromise” to the car.

“We had to reconfigure the chassis, change the cooling system and reconfigure the gearbox to make it fit,” he added.

“But we’ve managed that in time without any significant compromise to the chassis. It was quite a big change.

“The Renault engine will sit further forward in the chassis. With the Honda you had the air intake that had to come down into the front of the engine, and that volume came out of your fuel cell. So as a result, the chassis was longer.

“But then what you hadn’t got was a turbocharger sat off the back of the engine, which then gets in the way of your inboard suspension.

“So you ended up with a much easier task at the back of the engine.

“When you move to a Renault, suddenly the front of the engine becomes a lot simpler and as the result we win back a substantial amount of fuel volume.

“You can push the engine forwards and the aerodynamic blockage of the engine and exhaust is considerably better, because that has moved forwards behind the chassis.

“But then you have a turbocharger that is sat in the bellhousing and to accommodate that you have to redesign your rear suspension internals and lengthen the gearbox.

“But we’ve done a fantastic job. A really fantastic job.

“It was very, very intense. We had two weeks of very intense effort to get it sorted, but we knew pretty much what we needed to do.”

‘McLaren will find it tough against RRB, Renault’

Date published: January 16 2018

Nigel Mansell says he hopes Renault will be “very fair” in dealing with McLaren as they join Red Bull and Renault on the engine manufacturer’s list.

This season McLaren will race Renault engines after saying farewell to Honda after three dismal seasons.

The swap is expected to yield a massive step forward for McLaren with the Woking team adamant their biggest problem of late has been the engine, not the car.

However, how big a step could be determined by Renault’s fair play.

“It’s going to be tough, but hopefully they will be able to get very close and hopefully Renault will be very fair with the supplying of engines,” former champ Mansell told Motorsport.tv at the Autosport International show.

“Obviously, Mercedes don’t want to supply them because they don’t want them as competitors.

“The hardest thing in F1 is to get a level playing field.

“We need a better level playing field, we need 26 cars on the grid and we need not to be able to spend fortunes to try and bend the regulations.”

Palmer deserves ‘world class championship’ drive

Date published: January 9 2018

Jolyon Palmer may have been dropped by Renault but the French manufacturer still believes in his talent with Cyril Abiteboul saying he deserved a “world class championship” drive.

Struggling for the second successive season to score points, Palmer was dropped by Renault ahead of the 2017 United States GP in favour of Carlos Sainz.

The move signalled the end of the Brit’s time in Formula 1 while as yet there has been no news about a possible 2018 drive in another series.

Renault, though, reckon that whatever is next for Palmer should see the former GP2 champion racing in a “world class” series.

“I think it’s fair to say Jo and his family are not in complete control of the next steps and their future,” Abiteboul told Motorsport.com.

“We did try to look at options, which I don’t want to detail publicly, but I don’t think Jonathan or Jo would challenge the fact we’ve been extremely helpful – the best we could.

“Anything we can do to help Jo we will do, because I really think he deserves to be in a world class championship.

“The avenues we explored have not worked out so far, but we will see – Renault is a large family in motorsports, we have a number of activities, so we will see what the future can hold for everyone.”

The Renault F1 managing director touched on rumours linking Palmer to Renault’s Formula E team, a move that never came to fruition.

“I think there was maybe a timing issue,” he said.

“Maybe we could have developed something if there could have been an earlier buying into the process from all involved, but that’s not happened so far.”

Renault: Budkowski not here to share secrets

Date published: January 5 2018

Renault F1 team boss Cyril Abiteboul has said that they have not employed ex-FIA Formula 1 technical director Marcin Budkowski just to share information he has acquired from other teams.

The Enstone team caused quite the stir in the paddock when they announced their intention to sign Budkowski, who had the privileged position of learning the intricate details of all the team’s cars in his FIA role.

The likes of Mercedes and Red Bull wanted the move to be blocked for at least a year, but eventually a compromise was reached to put Budkowski on gardening leave until April.

But even with such a stipulation in place, Abiteboul has insisted that Budkowski’s is much more important and wide-ranging than simply revealing valuable information.

“I can understand the scepticism of the teams, but we are not recruiting someone of the calibre of Marcin in a position of executive director just for what he knows of the other teams,” Abiteboul told Motorsport.com.

“We are not interested in the secrets about the other cars, and I think a good demonstration is the fact we have accepted basically to keep him in isolation from any chassis development until April.

“The situation is he will actually be under our payroll from January onwards, but not involved in any Formula 1 chassis development. He will be involved in non-F1 work, focusing on the number of other racing activities we are doing.

“I need him also to understand the wider Renault organisation. There is an acclimatisation process before he can focus on the chassis development and operational activity he will be doing in Enstone from April onwards.”

Elaborating on Budkowski’s role, Abiteboul said that he has ultimately been employed to take Renault onto the same playing field as Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

“I’m interested in Marcin bringing us to the next level,” Abiteboul added. “The job of Marcin is basically to move Enstone from being a very strong midfield contender to becoming a top team.

“Marcin will really be focused on building the organisation and the operation to make sure we are aligned with our ambition for 2020-2021, when we want to start fighting for the championship.

“I want Marcin to build the perfect Formula 1 team of the 21st Century.”