For 2007 the Renault Formula 1 team gets a new primary sponsor and returns to the once traditional color scheme of yellow, white and black. Now that tobacco money has been banished from F1 cars, Renault says Au Revoir to long-time patron Mild Seven and Bonjour to Dutch banking and insurance conglomerate ING Group. The team is now officially known as ING Renault F1, which was unveiled recently along with the new R27 that they'll use to chase their third straight drivers and constructors championships, this time, however, without ace driver Fernando Alonso who jumped ship to McLaren for the 2007 season.
As a result of the new rules, for the first time since 2001 Renault is not using an all new engine in 2007. The 2.4L V-8 has ninety percent commonality with the 2006 engine and has been optimized to operate under the new 19,000 rpm rev limit imposed on all engines this year. This year's RS27 engine will also be shared with the Red Bull Racing RB3 in identical specification. A pair of the new R27s began testing at the Jerez track in Spain last week with the goal of achieving as many test miles as possible in the hands of both Giancarlo Fisichella and rookie Heikki Kovalainen prior to the season opener. They've already racked up over 1,200 miles with only minor issues. The full Renault press release is after the jump.
ING Renault F1 Team unveils the new R27
The ING Renault F1 Team roars into F1 with a spectacular Amsterdam launch of its R27
racer, aiming for continued on-track success. The ING Renault F1 Team today nailed its
new colours to the mast with the launch of the all-new R27 F1 car and a striking visual
The ING Renault F1 Team today signalled its arrival in Formula 1 in style, with a spectacular
media presentation in front of 600 VIPs and media in Amsterdam. Winners of consecutive world
championships in 2005 and 2006, the team proudly unveiled new title partner ING and the
striking new livery that will adorn the R27 cars throughout the 2007 season and beyond.
Renault F1 Team President Alain Dassas spoke of "exciting challenges" for the coming season,
which will see the team's championship campaign spearheaded by Italian Giancarlo Fisichella,
in his third season with the team, and Finnish rookie Heikki Kovalainen.
"Double championship success in 2005 and 2006 has earned Renault its status as a major
force in Formula 1," asserted Dassas. "Our Formula 1 championship success is a benchmark of
excellence that we aim to meet in every area of our operations. The Renault F1 Team's
performance culture reflects the ambitious objectives of our company-wide plan, Renault
Commitment 2009. Consecutive double championships are concrete proof that Renault can win
in a demanding environment where success demands quality, technical excellence and
"We must now live up to that reputation. The team will present a fresh face to the world with the
arrival of ING as our new title partner, and we are proud to welcome this major, global financial
institution to Formula 1. But on track, our challenge will remain the same: we will be asking our
technical teams and drivers to make Renault a championship contender in 2007."
After evaluating the three top teams in Formula 1, ING selected the Renault F1 Team as the
perfect fit for its first global marketing campaign. With a reach of 60 million clients around the
world, ING is seeking to exploit its significant investment in Formula 1, which will also include
title sponsorship of the opening round of the season in Australia, to grow brand awareness
globally. The Renault F1 Team's track record as a proven winner was a decisive factor in their
decision to sponsor the reigning world champions.
"Our Formula 1 programme is a global sponsorship initiative which will help us to enhance the
awareness of one unified ING brand worldwide." explained Michel Tilmant, Chairman of the
Executive Board of the ING Group. "Formula 1 is currently the best platform for a global
sponsorship programme, as it has the potential to reach a broad customer base. We chose
Renault for its track record as a high-performing team. We are convinced that teaming up with
the Renault F1 Team fosters our objectives of encouraging teamwork, performance culture and
permanent progress. I am confident that the ING Renault F1 Team will remain highly
competitive in the coming years. I wish the team a lot of success in the coming season".
The ING Renault F1 Team's 2007 challenger has been christened R27. The new car represents
an evolution of the design philosophy that won world championship success in 2005 and 2006.
Every part of the car has been designed to meet demanding performance criteria that will
enable the team to maintain its front-running performance. The aerodynamic packaging
represents a further step forward over its predecessor in terms of overall efficiency, and
innovative solutions have been employed in a number of areas to achieve improved
performance under stable technical regulations. The car also features a new 'instantaneous
gearchange' seven-speed gearbox, and has been designed with maximum set-up flexibility in
order that its dynamic characteristics can be tuned to suit the Bridgestone Potenza tyres that
will be used by every team in 2007.
"I am very proud of the team's work on R27," commented Technical Director Bob Bell. "We have
enjoyed two seasons of remarkable success, but there is no complacency at all at Renault.
Finding performance under stable regulations always obeys the law of diminishing returns, but
our technical group has worked hard to innovate and ensure that the new car represents a
genuine step forward over its predecessor in every area.
"The aerodynamic packaging is even more sophisticated than in previous years, while the gains
from our new gearbox have been significant on track. We have kept the mechanical
configuration of the suspension consistent in order to understand as thoroughly as possible the
demands of the new Bridgestone Potenza tyres. We made a successful start to the adaptation
process in the latter stages of 2006, and this will continue up to the first race. Everybody is
expecting an extremely competitive season in 2007, and we are confident that our proven track
record of world championship success will prove a considerable asset in that battle. The team is
hungry to continue winning, and the R27 reflects that determination."
The new car will be powered by the 2.4L V8 RS27 engine, which has been designed to the
requirements of the 'engine homologation' regulations which will be in force for 2007 and
beyond. Conceived to limit expenditure on engine development, these rules specify that no
performance improvements can be made to the engine relative to the definitive specification
that will be submitted to the FIA by 1 March 2007. The engine is based on the RS26 V8 engine
that competed in the Chinese and Japanese Grands Prix last season, and has been re-tuned in
line with modifications permitted by the regulations for the new maximum rev limit of 19,000 rpm
that will be imposed on all competitors.
"Our work for 2007 has been very different to previous years," revealed the team's Deputy
Managing Director (Engine), Rob White. "Rather than designing a new engine, as we have done
every season since 2001, the regulations have limited our work to optimising how the engine
operates within the new 19,000 rpm rev limit. Our development work has been conducted within
the framework of the new rules and although the engine will be called RS27, it contains just
10% new parts – compared to over 95% in previous years. However, it remains one of the most
advanced competition engines in the world, operating in an extreme environment, with tiny
margins for error. As always, our goal will be to achieve the only acceptable objective for a topline
Formula 1 engine: zero-defect reliability. We have worked hard to blend this with
competitive performance for the season ahead."
The RS27 engine will also equip the cars of Red Bull Racing during the 2007 season, under the
terms of a new engine supply agreement. The agreement specifies that both teams will use the
same specification of engine, and a team of Renault F1 Team engineers will provide trackside
support to Red Bull Racing. The new agreement marks the continuation of a tradition that begin
in 1983, and which has seen customer Renault engines win 80 Grands Prix since that time.
"We are very much looking forward to the new challenge, which is part of Renault's racing
tradition," explained the team's Head of Engine Track Operations Denis Chevrier. "We will be
looking to derive maximum benefit from every kilometre completed by a Renault engine, to
improve the performance and reliability of all four Renault engines on track. But Red Bull Racing
will remain a competitor like any other for the ING Renault F1 Team. We have established very
clear operating principles for the new relationship, and look forward to an honest, trusting
collaboration with our new partners."
The R27 completed its first shakedown in Jerez on 16 January, and the team tested at the
same circuit from 17-19 January with two brand new chassis – a first for the team, that provides
a decisive advantage in allowing both race drivers to accumulate maximum mileage in the R27
before the opening race of the season. The team completed over 2000 km in testing, with only
minor early-life reliability problems. Following their first test at the wheel of the new car, 2007
race drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen are already feeling positive about their
chances for the new season.
For Giancarlo Fisichella, 2007 will be his third year with the team – and the opportunity to
deliver on the promise glimpsed during the previous two seasons. Having been an integral part
of the team's championship successes in 2005 and 2006, the Italian will aim to add racewinning
consistency to his natural speed in order to become a regular contender at the front of
the field. An unquestionable asset will be his extensive Formula 1 experience, as he will be the
third most-experienced driver in the field in 2007.
"The spirit of the team is strong after two fantastic seasons, and we are feeling optimistic,"
explained the Italian. "The team has shown its confidence in me for the new season, and I am
determined to repay that in the best way possible, out on track. The team knows how to design
winning cars capable of fighting for the championship. That means there is a fantastic
opportunity for me this year, and I am determined to make the most of it."
Alongside Fisichella will be new team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, one of the brightest young
talents in Formula 1. The Finn has completed over 30,000 km in testing during recent seasons,
and has proved his racing credentials as a member of the Renault Driver Development
programme since 2002. The team has now offered him the rare opportunity to make his
Formula 1 debut in a championship-winning team.
"I am very excited about the new season," commented the Finn. "But I know that so far, I have
achieved nothing at all. I pushed myself very hard last year in testing, to show the team that I
was capable of doing the job. They had faith in me, and now it is my turn to deliver on that
promise. It is a big privilege for a rookie driver to start his career in a race-winning car, and I am
focused on doing it justice. This will be a season where I have a lot to learn, and I need to keep
mistakes to a minimum. There will be pressure, but that will come from me, because I always
drive myself to improve in every area. Overall, I am expecting 2007 to be a fantastic year for
me. I am in the best possible place to start my career, and my focus is on preparing as
thoroughly as possible for the first race – and the sixteen to come after that."
The race driver duo will be aided by newly-recruited test drivers Nelson Piquet Jr. and Ricardo
Zonta. They will bring a valuable blend of youthful talent and professional experience to the
team, as it manages the transition to Bridgestone tyres while simultaneously building for the
At the ING Renault F1 Team, all the ingredients are in place to start a new winning era, under
new colours. An exciting new title sponsorship and new faces in the driver line-up signal the
beginning of a new era, but the foundations are firmly rooted in the title-winning success of
"This is no year of transition for the ING Renault F1 Team," emphasised Managing Director
Flavio Briatore. "We have always said that the team is what matters, and that success comes
from the team spirit that unites us. 2007 is a fantastic opportunity to prove exactly that. There
are some big changes for this season, not just at Renault but throughout the grid. We believe in
our choices, and we are confident that they will help us achieve more success in 2007. It will be
a year of tough competition at every level. Those are the conditions that allow the best teams to
shine, and that is exactly what we intend to do."