Renault ‘motivated’ by Red Bull, McLaren challenge

Date published: February 22 2018

While Cyril Abiteboul acknowledges that taking on Red Bull and McLaren with the same engine is an “extra challenge” for Renault, it is, he says, also extra motivation.

This season Renault will power two of Formula 1’s biggest teams in Red Bull and McLaren while also seeing to their own works outfit.

It promises to be an interesting campaign for Renault as their improvements will be marked against that of McLaren, who last year were ninth in the championship with Honda engines.

But while McLaren are hoping that their swap to Renault will yield podiums, Red Bull want a title challenge, and Renault reckon they are both good benchmarks for this own team.

“Our strategy in Formula One is very clear,” said managing director Abiteboul. “We are in Formula One as a full works team. 

“The marketing value is associated to the works team and that’s clear.

“However, power unit technology is at the heart of what we do and what we offer. 

“Renault has an amazing track record of supplying engines to the best teams and best drivers, securing many successful results with Formula 1 teams, from Williams to Red Bull. 

“It’s natural to continue that history and stay true to that legacy.

“It’s an honour to supply to teams as big as Red Bull and McLaren and is a recognition of the quality of our product and work that they have chosen Renault. 

“Of course, they are very strong competitors and that’s an extra challenge and motivation. They will clearly be our benchmarks for performance this season.”

Renault power unit operating at ‘more than 950HP’

Date published: February 21 2018

Following the reveal of the new Renault R.S.18, the Enstone-based team claim their power unit is operating at more than 950HP.

The figure was included as part of their spec details for the 2018 challenger, but it is reliability that Renault want to focus on given they supply two high-profile customers in Red Bull and McLaren, and will be working under tighter restrictions given they have just three penalty-free engines to work with.

“We need a strong reliability record,” said Bell.

“That’s something we need to focus on, and we have worked hard on it over the winter. We need the car as reliable as we can make it.

“That’s a huge challenge, even more so than performance development, and it’s the toughest task we face.

“To improve reliability, we have to accept nothing less than perfection. Anything that ends up on the car needs to be designed and built to the highest standard; checked and rechecked as fit for purpose.

“All the issues which blighted us last year need to be eradicated by a fresh approach. It’s not something however that you can flick on like a switch, you need well established processes in place.”

Aitken rises to Renault reserve; Markelov joins

Date published: February 20 2018

Jack Aitken has been announced as Renault’s new reserve driver for the 2018 season, with Artem Markelov joining in a test and development role.

Aitken, who joined Renault’s academy in 2016 and finished runner-up to Mercedes’ young rising star George Russell in F3 last season, takes the spot last occupied by Sergey Sirotkin, who joined Williams in January.

“It feels amazing to take up the role as third and reserve driver,” said Aitken.

“It hasn’t quite processed yet, but I’m going to step up my involvement with the team quite a lot.

“Over the first Barcelona test it will start to feel real and sink in a little bit more.”

Last season’s F2 runner-up Artem Markelov also joins the team.

“We are still in the process of finalising my 2018 programme,” said Markelov, who will stay with Russian Time in F2 this season.

“It will be a season full of watching and learning and when the time comes to drive the Formula 1 car, I’ll be prepared.

“I will also help the team at the factory with simulator work to accelerate development of the Renault R.S.18.

“I will have to understand the car quickly and adapt as best I can to help both myself and the team. It’s so important to keep learning, and everyday I’ll try to learn something new and improve.”

Gallery: Say hello to Renault’s 2018 challenger

Date published: February 20 2018

We have reached the half-way stage of the 2018 car launches after Renault gave us our first glimpse of the new R.S.18.

There are no surprises where the livery is concerned with the usual yellow and black colour scheme.

As with all 2018 cars, there is no room for shark fins or T-wings, but mini T-wings will no doubt become the norm up and down the paddock.

Of course, the implementation of the Halo cockpit safety device as had a huge effect on the development process. Here’s how Renault have blended it in with the rest of the car.

Renault announced a new partnership with Alibaba’s Tmall, a Chinese sponsor, which will see the outline of a cat face feature on the R.S.18 alongside their other partners.

A regular theme is developing with the 2018 cars so far, with the very slim, aggressive-looking sidepods catching the eye.

And here’s a shot from above..

Renault reveal the new R.S.18

Date published: February 20 2018

Renault are the fifth team to reveal their 2018 challenger – the R.S 18 – following an online launch on Tuesday afternoon.

Following hot on the heels of Sauber, who unveiled their Alfa Romeo-branded Sauber C37 a few hours earlier, the Enstone team took the covers off the car they hope will bring another improved showing this season.

Its predecessor, the R.S.17, helped the team jump from ninth to sixth in the World Constructors’ Championship last season and will be aiming this year to at least put pressure on the likes of Force India before thinking about tackling the big dogs in Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

Carlos Sainz, on loan from Red Bull, will be taking part in his first full campaign for Renault after joining from Toro Rosso for the final four races of last season; Nico Hulkenberg, in his second season for Renault, will form the other half of a very competitive line-up.

Renault have opted to release three launch videos with the first dropping at 1500 GMT and the other two following at five minute intervals.

Renault’s R.S.18 to feature…a cat

Date published: February 19 2018

Renault will be hoping for a purr-fect season after announcing a new major sponsor which will see a cat logo feature on their 2018 challenger.

The Enstone team are unveiling the R.S.18 on Tuesday – the same day as Sauber – and, ahead of the launch, they have announced a new sponsor in Alibaba’s Tmall, a Chinese B2C marketplace.

The deal will see a Tmall cat logo feature on the new car.

“One of the key objectives of returning to Formula 1 was to leverage its global platform for Groupe Renault,” said Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul.

“China has been identified as a market of strategic importance and partnering with high-profile companies like Alibaba’s Tmall will provide opportunities to significantly improve Renault brand awareness and opinion in China, with a strong presence over the Chinese Grand Prix in April, but also throughout the year.”

There are concerns as to what this means for Renault’s ‘Aerocat’, but we are more than willing to chip in for a reward on its safe return should it go missing.

Mercedes wary of ‘serious’ McLaren, Renault threat

Date published: February 18 2018

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is not taking anything for granted ahead of the new season and named McLaren and Renault among their potential main rivals.

Many are expecting a big improvement from the Woking team now that they have changed engine suppliers from Honda to Renault, while a more sustained challenge from Ferrari and Red Bull is also expected.

And, despite being the four-time double World Champions, there is no room for complacency at the Silver Arrows.

“This is the pinnacle of motor racing you need to respect every team and the top drivers,” Wolff told Motorsport.com.

“We are taking Ferrari, we are taking Red Bull, we are taking McLaren, we are taking Renault seriously. These guys can fight for a championship and some others might be surprising us.

“I want to remain humble and expect competition from all of these teams and if we are able to align the dots like we have done in the last year then we will be winning races and then we will be fighting for championships and if we don’t then we haven’t been good enough.”

Wolff then singled out Ferrari for their progress in the 2017 season and, while he is happy with how Mercedes responded to the threat, he knows that will not be the last they see of them.

“How the car performed on track was exceptional and the step they made over the winter was probably the biggest step of all the teams,” Wolff added about Ferrari.

“I am happy that we kept it together. We have a record of 11 race victories versus the five of Ferrari and the stopwatch never lies.

“Having said that we need to stay both feet on the ground. Ferrari could have won more races. We’re taking them very seriously as a real contender [for 2018] like we do with the other teams.”