- This article is about the 2002–2011 team. For the team which competed as Equipe Renault Elf from 1977-1985, see Equipe Renault. For Renault engines see Renault (Engine Supplier).
|Full Name||Mild Seven Renault F1 Team (2002-2006)
ING Renault F1 Team (2007-2009)
Renault F1 Team (2009-2010)
Lotus Renault GP (2011)
|Base||Enstone, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom|
|Noted Staff||Flavio Briatore|
|Noted Drivers||Fernando Alonso|
|Previous Name||Benetton Formula|
|Next Name||Lotus F1|
|Formula One World Championship|
|Debut||2002 Australian Grand Prix|
|Constructors' Championships||2 (2005, 2006)|
|Drivers' Championships||2 (2005, 2006)|
|Final race||2011 Brazilian Grand Prix|
The Renault Formula One team, was a French and British Formula One racing team which won Constructors' and Drivers' titles in 2005 and 2006. The Renault car company returned to Formula One as a team in 2002 when it completed its takeover and rebranding of the UK-based team previously known as Benetton (and before that, Toleman). At the end of 2009, the Renault car company sold a 75% stake in the team to the Genii Capital investment company. At the end of 2010, Renault sold its remaining 25% share to Genii, which then decided to enter into an alignment with Group Lotus. For the 2011 Formula One season the team competed under the name Lotus Renault GP, which was the last year that the name "Renault" was used as a constructor name in Formula One. Following the withdrawal of the Renault car company and the increased involvement of Lotus, the Enstone team was renamed to Lotus F1 Team in 2012.
Renault had previously competed in Formula One from 1977 to 1985 under the name Equipe Renault. Renault purchased Benetton Formula Limited for $120 million on March 16, 2000, to return to Formula One. Renault maintained the Benetton name for the 2000 and the 2001 seasons. When reporting the purchase the International Herald Tribune commented that "the team will not race under the Renault name until it is ready to win and reap the marketing benefits." It was not until 2002 that this name change occurred.
In 2002, Benetton were rebranded as Renault F1. They retained Benetton driver Jenson Button while Italian Jarno Trulli joined the team. Trulli often outqualified his British teammate, but was generally shaded in races by the Briton. In the opening race of the season in Malaysia, Button was on track for his first podium before a suspension problem in the final laps dropped him to fourth place. The team finished fourth in the Constructors' Championship with 23 points, an impressive result for the team's first season and paving the way for their future success.
Despite outscoring his teammate during 2002, Button was dropped by Renault in 2003. His replacement was Spain's Fernando Alonso, who had been impressive as a test driver the previous year. The Spaniard became the youngest driver to achieve a Formula One pole position at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Alonso won the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix, the first time Renault had won a Grand Prix since the 1983 Austrian Grand Prix.
In 2004, the team were contenders for second place in the Constructors' Championship. Trulli won the Monaco Grand Prix, but his relationship with Renault (particularly with team principal and Trulli's ex-manager Flavio Briatore) deteriorated after he was consistently off the pace in the latter half of the year, and made claims of favouritism in the team towards Alonso (though the two teammates themselves remained friendly).
Commentators regularly point to the French Grand Prix as the final straw for Briatore, where Trulli was overtaken by Rubens Barrichello in the final stages of the last lap, costing Renault a double podium finish at their home Grand Prix. He subsequently announced he was joining Toyota for the following year and in fact left Renault early, driving the Toyota in the last two races of the 2004 season. Hoping to secure second place in the Constructors' Championship, Renault replaced Trulli with 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve for the final three races. However, Villeneuve — away from F1 racing for almost an entire season and struggling to acclimatise quickly to racing at the premier level — did not impress, and the team finished third behind BAR.
Giancarlo Fisichella was Trulli's replacement for the 2005 season. He took advantage of a rain-affected qualifying session to win the first race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso then won the next three races to build a considerable lead in the Drivers' World Championship, thereby doing the same for Renault in the Constructors' championship. Meanwhile, Fisichella failed to finish several races. After the San Marino Grand Prix, Renault and Alonso's championship leads came under attack from a fast-but-fragile McLaren-Mercedes team and Kimi Räikkönen respectively for the Drivers' Championship. McLaren took the lead of the Constructors' World Championship by securing a one-two finish at the Brazilian Grand Prix, but that was to be the race in which Alonso secured the Drivers' title, becoming the youngest ever driver to do so. This achievement was followed by a win in China to secure the Constructors' World Championship for Renault after McLaren driver Juan Pablo Montoya's car was badly damaged by a drain cover coming loose on the track. This broke Ferrari's six-year stranglehold on that title. It was the first time Renault had won the title as a manufacturer, and Renault became only the second French constructor (after the triumph of Matra in 1969) to win the title.
Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella were retained for 2006, while test driver Franck Montagny was replaced by Heikki Kovalainen. The team's 2006 contender, the R26 – featuring a seven speed gearbox made of titanium, was unveiled at a launch event on January 31.
Alonso won the opening Bahrain Grand Prix as well as the Australian Grand Prix and finished second in Malaysia behind teammate Fisichella to claim Renault's first one-two finish since René Arnoux and Alain Prost in 1982. Alonso took two more second places, and then wins at his home grand prix in Spain, and at the Monaco Grand Prix. Fisichella took 8th, 6th and 3rd place finishes in the San Marino Grand Prix, European Grand Prix and the Spanish Grand Prix.
The team celebrated its 200th Grand Prix at Silverstone, which was won by Alonso. As the season progressed to its North American stint, Alonso won the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, Canada. At the U.S Grand Prix, Ferrari had a distinct performance advantage over the whole weekend. However, Renault were the fastest of all the Michelin runners. Fisichella finished 3rd, while Alonso finished 5th.
At the French Grand Prix, Renault were expected to be faster than Ferrari, but Ferrari again had the advantage. Alonso ran third for most of the race, unable to challenge the Ferraris of Schumacher and Massa. However, a tactical switch to a two stop strategy enabled him to pass Massa and finish second.
On 21 July 2006 the FIA banned the use of mass damper systems, developed and first used by Renault and subsequently used by 7 other teams, including Ferrari. Flavio Briatore claimed that McLaren had raised the issue of the system's legality with the FIA. The system used a spring-mounted mass in the nose cone to reduce the sensitivity of the car to vibration. This was particularly effective in corners and over kerbs to keep the tyres in closer contact to the track surface than they would otherwise be. However race stewards at the German Grand Prix deemed the system legal. The FIA announced its intention to appeal that decision and Renault announced they would not race with the system for fear of retrospective punishment if the appeal was upheld. Renault's performance at the German Grand Prix was one of their worst of the season; however, the team blamed blistering of their Michelin tyres rather than the loss of the mass damper system. The FIA International Court of Appeal met in Paris on August 22, 2006, to examine the appeal made by the FIA against the decision of the German Grand Prix stewards. The Court ruled that use of the device known as a Tuned Mass Damper is an infringement of Article 3.15 of the Formula One Technical Regulations.
Points scored in the Brazilian Grand Prix secured the constructor's championship for Renault in 2006.
On October 16, 2006, Renault announced that the Dutch banking giant ING would replace Mild Seven as title sponsor for three years starting in 2007.
Renault confirmed Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen as their race drivers for 2007 with Nelson Piquet, Jr. and Ricardo Zonta as test drivers. The car for 2007, the R27, was unveiled on 24 January 2007, and bore a new yellow, blue, orange and white livery in deference to the corporate colours of ING. Renault engines were also supplied to the Red Bull Racing team for the 2007 season.
Renault struggled in comparison to their form in previous seasons in Australia, with Giancarlo Fisichella finishing the race in 5th place. Rookie Heikki Kovalainen struggled even more than the Italian, spinning his car as he chased Toyota's Ralf Schumacher and ending up in 10th place. Results did not improve until the start of the European season, although both drivers finished in the points in the next race at Malaysia. Heikki Kovalainen struggled in Bahrain too, although the gap between himself and Fisichella at the end of the race was not as great as was seen at Melbourne, with Fisichella finishing only 8th. The team's pace began to pick up in Barcelona, with both drivers making it into Q3, setting competitive lap times in the race (4th fastest lap for Kovalainen) and looking set for 5th and 8th, only to be hampered by an identical problem on both fuel rigs, forcing both drivers to make extra pitstops which dropped them back to 7th and 9th.
On November 8, 2007 the FIA accused Renault F1 of having McLaren F1 technical information in their possession. According to the charge, the information in hand "included the layout and critical dimensions of the McLaren car as well as details of McLaren's fuelling system, gear assembly, hydraulic control system and suspension". The hearing on this matter took place in Monaco on December 6, 2007. The charge faced by Renault F1 – breaching of article 151c of the Sporting Regulations – was the same as that faced by McLaren earlier on in 2007 in the espionage controversy involving Ferrari & McLaren. The FIA found Renault F1 in breach of article 151c but did not penalize the team.
It was announced on December 10, 2007 that Fernando Alonso had signed with Renault F1 for 2008. Alonso drove alongside promoted test driver Nelson Piquet, Jr., and was believed to have secured number one status within the team. The team started 2008 in a similar manner as the year before; Fernando Alonso managed to garner fourth at the opening Australian Grand Prix as a result of a mistake from previous Renault employee Heikki Kovalainen. However, form was still short of 2006 by a large degree over the first half of the 2008 season. The team brought new parts to the Spanish Grand Prix, including a new engine-cover, dubbed the "Shark-fin", similar to the one introduced by Red Bull on their RB4. Alonso managed to qualify on the front row for that race on a light fuel-load, yet retired with an engine-failure halfway through. Alonso's front row qualifying performance in Spain was a rare moment of achievement from the former world champion. Both cars retired at the Canadian Grand Prix and Nelson Piquet Jnr., who retired from six of the first nine races, failed to score until the French Grand Prix.
The German Grand Prix heralded a change in the team's fortune. Piquet Jr. benefited from the deployment of the safety car to secure Renault's first podium of the year with second. Both drivers scored at the Hungarian Grand Prix although they failed to pick up anything at Valencia two weeks later. Two fourth places for Alonso in Belgium and Italy were a prelude to the Singapore Grand Prix, in which Alonso profited from the early crash of his team mate (later revealed to be a deliberate crash to aid the Spaniard. See: Renault Formula One crash controversy) to claim his first victory of the season, and Renault's first since the 2006 Japanese Grand Prix. This victory made Alonso and Renault the first ever winners of a formula one race held under floodlights. Renault underlined their return to the front at the subsequent Japanese Grand Prix, in which Alonso steered clear of Lewis Hamilton's first-corner mistake to record another win. Piquet Jr. finished fourth in the team's best performance of the season. A further double points finish in China was followed by Alonso's second place finish at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.
Renault entered the season with high hopes of challenging for both world titles. Although Alonso managed four points finishes in the first six races, it was soon clear that this target was unrealistic. By mid-season it appeared as though Renault were making progress, with Alonso setting the fastest lap in Germany and securing pole position in Hungary, albeit on a light fuel load. However, Alonso was forced to retire early in Hungary due to a fuel pump failure, after a front wheel came loose as it was incorrectly fitted at his first pit-stop. At Belgium Alonso again looked like scoring a podium for the team, but had to retire with another problem with one of his wheels which was damaged as a result of a first-lap clash with Adrian Sutil. Piquet performed poorly in the first half of the season and was replaced by Romain Grosjean for the last third of the season. Neither Piquet nor Grosjean managed to score a point. A podium in Singapore was little consolation in what had been a frustrating and controversial season for the team.
Renault had been suspended for one race (the 2009 European Grand Prix) due to the incident involving Fernando Alonso's wheel not being fitted properly in the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, however this has been overturned on appeal following a decision from the FIA on 17 August 2009.
On 4 August, Nelson Piquet, Jr. was told by Renault he would not continue driving for them for the rest of the season."I have received notice from Renault of its intention to stop me from driving for them in the current F1 season," read a statement on Piquet's website. Piquet had described the 2009 season as "the worst period of my career" and had criticised team boss Flavio Briatore. He was replaced by test driver Romain Grosjean as of the European Grand Prix.
After his first podium of the year in Singapore, Fernando Alonso confirmed that he would be leaving Renault, moving to Scuderia Ferrari starting in 2010 and ending in 2012. Alonso stated he would end his career at the Italian giant, so it is unlikely he will return to the French team. Alonso was replaced by Polish driver Robert Kubica.
In 2010, Renault sold a majority stake in the team to Genii Capital, a Luxembourg based investment company. However Renault still retained a 25% share in the team and continued as an engine supplier. Red Bull Racing confirmed they would be using Renault engines for 2010. Robert Kubica was signed as Alonso's replacement on 7 October 2009, but following the shareholding deal, Kubica and his manager Daniel Morelli asked for clarification on the management structure before committing to the outfit. However, in the new year, clarification was sought and Kubica was ready to commit to the outfit. On 31 January, Vitaly Petrov was signed to be Kubica's team-mate, becoming Russia's first Formula One driver.
At the opening round in Bahrain, Petrov retired with broken suspension while in the pit lane on lap 14, and Kubica finished in eleventh place.
Kubica took his first podium with the team, with a second place finish in Australia. Petrov retired from the race, after spinning off the circuit.
Kubica finished the next 3 races in the points, a 4th place in Malaysia, 5th place in Shanghai, and 8th place in Barcelona. Petrov meanwhile scored his first points in Formula 1 in China, it could have been more, but he spun off whilst in fourth, yet he still recovered to bring some points home in 7th place.
After setting fast times on Thursday and the fastest time in Saturday's practice session, – followed by P2 in qualifying, Kubica finished in 3rd place in Monaco, just 1.6 seconds behind the winner. Petrov retired in the closing laps of the race, but was still classified 13th.
Vitaly Petrov's season has not lived up to Renault's expectations, out-qualified and out-raced by Robert Kubica at almost every race weekend. However, Petrov did find considerable form at the Hungarian Grand Prix when he outqualified Kubica for the first time and finished the race fifth. However, in Belgium, Petrov made a mistake that ended with in a crash in the first session of qualifying when he explored the kerbs at Liege corner, claiming he was testing to see how wet they were and if they were usable on his flying lap. His failure to set a time placed him 24th on the grid, though a gearbox penalty to Sauber's Pedro de la Rosa promoted him to 23rd. However, he went onto finish ninth, resulting in three consecutive points finishes in a row. In Singapore, Petrov was running seventh before being pushed off by Williams' Nico Hülkenberg, whilst Kubica was forced to make an unscheduled stop late in the race with a puncture, before going on to recover almost every place he had lost.
Rumours had tipped 2007 World Champion Kimi Räikkönen to replace Petrov for 2011, but the Finn angrily rejected claims he would join the team, stating that he was upset Renault was using his name for their own image and that their actions meant he would not race for them.
On 5 November 2010, Autosport reported that Renault was poised to scale back its involvement in 2011 and become only an engine supplier, with the team closing in on a tie-up with Lotus Cars to buy its 25% stake in the team. The deal was finalised in early December 2010, with the team to be renamed Lotus Renault GP for 2011, under a sponsorship deal signed with Lotus Cars until 2017. In January 2011, team principal Éric Boullier announced that the team would race under a British licence in 2011, having raced as a French outfit since Renault took over in 2002. On 6 February 2011, Robert Kubica was severely injured in an accident during a rally in Italy. It was unclear if he would be able to return to Formula One during the 2011 season. On 16 February, it was announced that Nick Heidfeld was signed as Kubica's replacement, while Kubica still remained signed with the team for 2011.
The team started the season strongly at the Australian Grand Prix, with Petrov taking his first podium in Formula One, finishing third, and Heidfeld finished twelfth with a damaged car. Heidfeld finished third in the next race in Malaysia, while Petrov retired late on; he hit a bump caused by a drainage gully which launched his car into the air and broke the car's steering column on landing. Heidfeld and Petrov finished seventh and eighth in Turkey, as the team's early season performance began to fade. New restrictions over the use of off-throttle blown diffusers were introduced for the British Grand Prix, and the team was badly affected having designed their car around the system. Heidfeld managed 8th place in the race, with Petrov 12th. Heidfeld was replaced by Bruno Senna from the Belgian Grand Prix onwards, who scored his best finish of ninth at the following race in Italy. The team's early season form didn't last and they evntually ended the sseason in 5th place with only 73 points. For 2012 the team would be re-named as Lotus F1 Team, ending fully Renault's assocation with the main team.
Complete Formula One resultsEdit
(key) (Results in bold indicate pole position; results in italics indicate fastest lap)
|2002||R202||RS22 3.0 V10||M||AUS||MAL||BRA||SMR||ESP||AUT||MON||CAN||EUR||GBR||FRA||GER||HUN||BEL||ITA||USA||JPN||23||4th|
|RS23 3.0 V10||M||AUS||MAL||BRA||SMR||ESP||AUT||MON||CAN||EUR||FRA||GBR||GER||HUN||ITA||USA||JPN||88||4th|
|2004||R24||RS24 3.0 V10||M||AUS||MAL||BHR||SMR||ESP||MON||EUR||CAN||USA||FRA||GBR||GER||HUN||BEL||ITA||CHN||JPN||BRA||105||3rd|
|2005||R25||RS25 3.0 V10||M||AUS||MAL||BHR||SMR||ESP||MON||EUR||CAN||USA||FRA||GBR||GER||HUN||TUR||ITA||BEL||BRA||JPN||CHN||191||1st|
|2006||R26||RS26 2.4 V8||M||BHR||MAL||AUS||SMR||EUR||ESP||MON||GBR||CAN||USA||FRA||GER||HUN||TUR||ITA||CHN||JPN||BRA||206||1st|
|2007||R27||RS27 2.4 V8||B||AUS||MAL||BHR||ESP||MON||CAN||USA||FRA||GBR||EUR||HUN||TUR||ITA||BEL||JPN||CHN||BRA||51||3rd|
|2008||R28||RS27 2.4 V8||B||AUS||MAL||BHR||ESP||TUR||MON||CAN||FRA||GBR||GER||HUN||EUR||BEL||ITA||SIN||JPN||CHN||BRA||80||4th|
|6||Nelson Piquet, Jr.||Ret||11||Ret||Ret||15||Ret||Ret||7||Ret||2||6||11||Ret||10||Ret||4||8||Ret|
|2009||R29||RS27 2.4 V8||B||AUS||MAL||CHN||BHR||ESP||MON||TUR||GBR||GER||HUN||EUR||BEL||ITA||SIN||JPN||BRA||ABU||26||8th|
|8||Nelson Piquet, Jr.||Ret||13||16||10||12||Ret||16||12||13||12|
|2010||R30||RS27-2010 2.4 V8||B||BHR||AUS||MAL||CHN||ESP||MON||TUR||CAN||EUR||GBR||GER||HUN||BEL||ITA||SIN||JPN||KOR||BRA||ABU||163||5th|
|2011||R31||RS27-2011 2.4 V8||P||AUS||MAL||CHN||TUR||ESP||MON||CAN||EUR||GBR||GER||HUN||BEL||ITA||SIN||JPN||KOR||IND||ABU||BRA||73||5th|