Renault in Formula 1 review and benefits for all motorists

Renault in Formula 1 review and benefits for all motorists

12.02.2020: First Entry: 1977 British Grand Prix Wins: 177 Pole Positions: 217 Podiums: 508 Fastest Laps: 186 Drivers’ Championships: 11 Constructors’ Championships: 12

First Entry: 1977 British Grand Prix
Wins: 177
Pole Positions: 217
Podiums: 508
Fastest Laps: 186
Drivers’ Championships: 11
Constructors’ Championships: 12

Finding its feet in the 70s

Renault first entered Formula 1 in the 1977 British Grand Prix with Jean-Pierre Jabouille driving the first turbocharged engine Formula 1 car, the RS01. By 1979, the team advanced to two drivers with Frenchman René Arnoux joining Jabouille. Later that year, Renault took its first Formula 1 win with Jabouille triumphing in the French Grand Prix in Dijon.

Establishing and growing in the 80s

By the early 1980s, Renault’s Formula 1 project was building momentum and became among the frontrunners on the grid. Arnoux and Jabouille shared three wins across the 1980 season before Renault signed Alain Prost to join Arnoux for 1981. Renault finished third in the Constructors’ Championship in both 1981 and 1982 and by 1983 narrowly missed out on the title to Ferrari with Prost falling short of the Drivers’ crown by a slender two points. After missing out on wins in both 1984 and 1985, Renault removed its full manufacturer entry from Formula 1 and decided to focus on engine supply with Tyrrell, Lotus and Ligier.

Engine supply success in the 90s

In 1989, with naturally aspirated engines formally introduced to Formula 1, Renault formed an engine supply deal with Williams, a partnership which would go on to dominate the 1990s. After finishing runner-up in 1991, Williams won the 1992 title with four rounds to spare with Nigel Mansell wrapping up the Drivers’ title with five rounds in hand. For the next five years, Renault engines would win 53 races and five straight championships.

Amongst that was the Enstone-based Benetton’s 1995 success which contributed to the second of Michael Schumacher’s seven world titles. Renault left Formula 1 in 1997 but continued to work with Mecachrome for engine supply.

Returning and winning in the 2000s

The Renault name officially returned to Formula 1 in 2002 following its purchase of Benetton in 2000. Jenson Button and Jarno Trulli formed the line-up for 2002 with the team – based at Enstone - finishing fourth in the Championship. Fernando Alonso – Test Driver the year before – signed alongside Trulli for 2003 and took his first win and Renault’s first victory as a full works team since 1983 in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

As per the early 80s, Renault were becoming a force to be reckoned with in Formula 1. Trulli won the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix with the team finishing third in the Championship. In 2005, Renault won its first world championship titles. While new signing Giancarlo Fisichella clinched the first race, Alonso claimed seven wins on his way to his first Drivers’ Championship with the team winning the Constructors’ by nine points. The following year it was a similar story with Alonso taking seven victories to Fisichella’s one on the way to a second Driver-Constructor world title double.

More engine success in the 2010s

Renault continued as a full manufacturer team until 2011 and during that time formed a deal with Red Bull Racing for engine supply. Following the trend of the 90s with Williams, the partnership proved to be immensely successful. Red Bull won four straight Driver-Constructor titles between 2010 and 2013 with 40 victories. At Enstone, Lotus F1 Team under Renault power took two race wins in 2012 and 2013. Prior to the 2016 season, Renault announced it would return to Formula 1 as a full manufacturer. Since then, the team has climbed from ninth in 2016 to fourth in 2018 and fifth in 2019 with its ambitions of returning to the top.

Aiming to get back on top in the 2020s

Renault begin a new decade with Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon forming its dynamic driver line-up for the 2020 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.


Q&A with Patrice Ratti, Renault Sport Cars Managing Director

How does the cooperation between Renault Sport Cars and Renault Sport Racing work?
The Renault Sport Cars and Renault Sport Racing teams maintain very close ties in order to keep offering performance-driven technologies. This can be seen, for example, on Mégane R.S.: from the cylinder head of the jointly developed 1.8-litre turbo engine to the turbine fitted on a ceramic ball bearing system – a technology directly inspired by Formula 1 – there is continued cooperation. Similarly, the Renault Sport Cars teams contributed to the development of New Clio Cup by providing their knowledge and expertise.

Moreover, it is also important for us to have a link with the drivers, whether it is in their role as ambassadors around the world or the valuable expertise that they share with us when we develop our cars.

What can we expect to see from Renault Sport Cars in 2020?

After 2019 was headlined by Mégane R.S. TROPHY-R, which holds the lap record for a front-wheel drive production car at the Nürburgring track in Germany, Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and Suzuka in Japan, 2020 will see the arrival of phase 2 of Mégane R.S., three years after the first phase was unveiled.

Meanwhile, our range of merchandising products and accessories, “R.S. Performance”, launched at the end of 2018, will be expanded and extended to more models to meet rising demand in the R.S. community. Whilst we’re not about to give everything away here, you can also expect a few surprises with Mégane R.S. TROPHY-R.

What are the upcoming challenges for Renault Sport Cars?

It is important for us to continue to convey the Renault Sport experience to all our customers and to maintain the brand's motorsport heritage in their day-to-day driving. We have to preserve our know-how in terms of sporting prowess and driving pleasure, while adapting to more demanding environmental standards, which will impose electric or hybrid solutions. We are working actively to meet all these challenges, as we have always done over the last twenty years.


The Renault Sport range is based on a three-tier structure to cover all the needs of the customer.

The new R.S. Line is all about underlining the sportiness to meet growing customers’ needs through a strong customisation and a dynamic design. R.S. Line boasts the F1-style blade, a R.S. signature feature, as well as identity elements such as the sleek red and black interior or the R.S. double-diamond badged steering wheel.

The R.S.’s offer the best performance and an uncompromising driving pleasure: the very best from Renault Sport.

Benefiting from technologies developed on the track, the R.S., R.S. Line are the flagships of the Renault range. Behind the wheel, hundreds of thousands of drivers form a border-free community that keeps the Renault Sport passion rolling on the roads around the world.

Renault's technological excellence in F1 for the benefit of all motorists

Renault’s excellence on the racetrack has already found its way into the specification of its production engines. A prime example is the latest generation of Energy engines that have benefitted from the input of skilled specialists from the world of Formula 1.


Over recent years strengthened ties have been forged between Viry-Châtillon, where Renault’s F1 powerplants are designed and developed, and the Technocentre in Guyancourt, the company’s nerve-centre of road car engineering development. In addition, even closer ties will now be forged between Les Ulis, home to Renault Sport Cars. The close collaboration that exists between the race engine specialists and their production engine colleagues, as well as the one-off projects that involve both parties, allow breakthroughs in F1 to benefit road going engines, and vice-versa.

The speed at which developments occur in F1 and the analytical skills of Renault’s race engine specialists enable the company to explore new technical solutions in extreme conditions. Competing with specialist makes on the racetrack also provides Renault, as a volume manufacturer, with a unique grasp of cutting-edge engine architectures.

This approach enables Renault to constantly improve the energy efficiency of both its race and road going engines in many different ways, including:

•    Turbocharging and downsizing
•    Direct fuel injection
•    Friction reduction
•    Shared practices

As such, Renault’s customers benefit from a level of powertrain excellence that has been honed in the exacting world of motorsport.

Electric technologies

Renault is making a direct contribution to the emergence of electric technologies via a dual sporting and technical commitment. F1 power units now incorporate powerful electrical motors that are capable of harnessing energy lost under braking and in the exhaust. The recovered energy is stored in a battery and released on demand to boost power.

This commitment showcases Renault’s determination to step up technological progress in electric and hybrid vehicles. The technologies developed as part of our commitments will contribute to improving the performance of electric motors and the battery range.


Turbocharging enables smaller cubic capacity engines to produce greater power despite lower maximum rev limits. Energy that would otherwise be wasted as heat in the exhaust gases is recovered to drive the turbo. This energy is then used to compress the intake air (compressor) and increase the pressure inside the cylinders.

Renault stood out as the pioneer in turbocharging and downsizing in Formula 1 when it debuted the R.S.01 turbo engine in 1977. It gradually made this technology widely available in emblematic high-performance production cars in the 1980s, including the R5 Turbo, R18 Turbo, R11 Turbo and R21 2L Turbo.

Today, all the power plants that form Renault’s Energy range are turbocharged with a view to reconciling the performance and fuel efficiency of its current smaller and lighter engines. Similarly, the E-Tech 19 is a V6 turbo, capable of producing more bang for buck than its engine displacement would normally allow.

Direct injection

Direct fuel injection permits accurate control of the form and rate of the fuel spray inside the cylinders and not inside the intake manifolds, as is the case with indirect injection.

Direct fuel injection in the Renault production cars also stems from the two-way dialogue between Viry and Guyancourt in their respective bids to optimise energy efficiency while minimising fuel consumption. The latter has been cut by 40 percent with the latest generation Formula 1 engine and is down 25 percent in the case of Renault’s Energy production engines.

Friction reduction

The Energy engine range benefits from Renault F1 Team’s expertise in friction-reducing technologies, including:

•    DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) coating of cam followers
•    Pressure Vapour Deposit (PVD) treatment of piston rings
•    UFLEX oil control ring technology, which has been used in F1 for more than a decade. The form of the ‘U’ permits the piston ring to adapt to the exact profile of the cylinder wall to obtain the best compromise between efficiency (oil scraped off the lining to minimise consumption) and friction.

Fuel consumption

In F1, weight is public enemy number one. Low fuel consumption is clearly an advantage since it means you can carry less fuel, and that makes the car lighter and therefore faster.

Electronic control systems

When it comes to improving powertrain performance in road car technology, electronic control systems play an increasingly important role. High-performance control units, algorithms that incorporate more and more physical models, virtual sensors and so on are critical in reducing energy consumption.
F1 engines are fitted with sophisticated electronic control units that are capable of processing 5GB of data per hour to control fuel consumption, engine modes and hydraulic systems.

Compound engines

The principle of recovering energy by placing a turbine in the exhaust line of a reciprocating engine and transmitting this energy to the crankshaft is not new. It was even used prior to World War 2 on certain airplane engines and a mechanical form was developed for trucks. The process is known as a ‘compound’ engine.

The advantage of an electric turbo-compound solution is that it enables the released energy to be controlled in real time in order to use it when and where it is really necessary. Depending on the need of the moment, it can be transmitted to the crankshaft, employed to maintain the speed of the turbine (and thereby reduce inertia during the transient phase), or quite simply stored in the battery until required.

Again, this technology mirrors that of F1’s highly advanced power units.


In addition to sharing technologies, the pooling of systems and skills ensures real bonds between F1 and production vehicles as savoir-faire and sizing tools are pooled to optimise both road-going and F1 engines.

Renault F1 Team’s experience of high-performance engines proved beneficial when it came to designing the cooling system for Renault’s road-going turbocharged engines. An example is the transverse water flow system employed by Energy engines.

Validation processes based on a thorough understanding of engine physics are also one of Renault’s key assets. Ensuring reliability at each race is vital to success in F1, while the durability of the brand’s Energy powerplant range is recognised in quality surveys.

Last but not least, talent sharing with a view to pooling advanced skills is a vital ingredient when it comes to promoting fruitful, two-way dialogue and fostering the spirit of innovation. Philippe Coblence, who was behind the architecture of the Energy dCi 130, and Jean-Philippe Mercier, who was behind the Energy TCe blocks, are both former managers of Renault Sport F1’s engineering office and architects of the V10, then V8 powerplants, which were successful in F1 in the 1990s and 2000s.

They brought their personal expertise and exacting approach to their respective road-engine projects. Downsizing, for example, was taken to new limits thanks to technical solutions and processes brought with them from F1. Energy engines now boast an unprecedented technological package for their level of range and, compared with their predecessors, deliver combined-cycle fuel savings of up to 25 percent for the vehicles they power.

The wide variety of skills available across Renault is a major advantage that is also beneficial to Renault F1 Team. For example, the team at Viry-Châtillon makes intensive use of Renault's materials laboratory, as well as tools like the scanning electron microscope.

Advanced technology developing the vehicles of tomorrow

Formula 1 is an innovation laboratory for Groupe Renault. The sport is constantly evolving but has always used cutting-edge technologies and know-how, including virtual reality, simulation, artificial intelligence, exploitation and protection of data, hybridization, and so on.

As regards hybridization, knowledge has been transferred between the Renault F1 Team and Production Engineering teams in the field of energy management in a very real manner. This stems from the fact that several engineers who are currently working on Renault’s hybrid models spent six months at Viry Châtillon in 2013 during development of the Formula 1 hybrid engine. They therefore acquired detailed knowledge of energy management strategy, knowledge that they apply now to the development of Renault’s future hybrid models – Clio, Captur and Mégane – that will become available to customers in 2020.

When harnessed by the technical excellence of Viry-Châtillon and Enstone, the development of these technologies will benefit series models developed for the customers of tomorrow.


15 March    Melbourne    Australia
22 March    Sakhir    Bahrain
5 April    Hanoi    Vietnam
19 April    Shanghai    China
3 May    Zandvoort    Netherlands
10 May    Barcelona    Spain
24 May    Monte Carlo    Monaco
7 June    Baku    Azerbaijan
14 June    Montréal    Canada
28 June    Le Castellet    France
5 July    Spielberg    Austria
19 July    Silverstone    Great Britain
2 August    Budapest    Hungary
30 August    Spa-Francorchamps    Belgium
6 September    Monza    Italy
20 September    Singapore    Singapore
27 September    Sochi    Russia
11 October    Suzuka    Japan
25 October    Austin    USA
1 November    Mexico City    Mexico
15 November    São Paulo    Brazil
29 November    Yas Marina    Abu Dhabi



- Renault also photos


12.02.2020 / MaP

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