The Renault Energy F1-2014 Power Unit is comprised of a 1.6-liter turbocharged V6 engine with direct injection and a 15,000 rpm redline mated to a new Energy Recovery System with two electric motors – one recovering energy from the brakes and the other from the exhaust – storing the energy in an onboard battery (as opposed to the mechanical flywheel other constructors had toyed with earlier). Together they're capable of producing 760 horsepower – around 600 horses comes from the internal-combustion engine and the rest from the hybrid assist.
That's about the same output as the previous V8 engines were producing, but the new power units have to be more economical and last longer: While the V8s could consume fuel as fast as the team wanted (at least until the elimination of mid-race refueling), the new turbo V6 can only use 100 kg of fuel per hour. What's more is that 100 kg of fuel has to last the entire race distance, representing a 35-percent decrease over last year, and each driver only gets five engines for the entire season.
So while the new engines may not be any more powerful than the ones they replace, they're more compact, longer-lasting and consume less fuel than ever before. Intrigued? There's plenty more to digest in the press release below, so hop on in – and don't forget to check out the images (including some nifty diagrams and infographics) in the gallery above.
- FIA Formula One World Championship set to welcome most radical technical changes in the history of the sport in 2014
- Cars will be powered by highly sophisticated Power Units combining turbocharged internal combustion engines and potent energy recovery systems harvesting energy from exhaust and braking
- Over the course of the lap, cars will be powered by traditional fuel and electrical energy
- Double restrictions on fuel flow and mass will make the Power Units amongst the most fuel efficient engines in the world
- Renault's Energy F1-2014 Power Unit developed at its state of the art facility at Viry-Châtillon, France is ready for the challenge
- The new generation Power Unit named Energy F1 to reflect synergies with the pioneering fuel efficient Energy engine range used in Renault road cars, which maintain or improve driving pleasure, vitality and acceleration with downsized engines to achieve lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions
This year, the FIA Formula One World Championship is set for a raft of radical technical regulation changes. From 2014 onwards, the cars will be powered by avant-garde powertrain technology, with a powerful turbocharged internal combustion engine coupled to sophisticated energy recovery systems.
Power output will be boosted to levels not seen in the sport in over five years, however, two types of energy will propel the cars. The internal combustion engine will produce power through consumption of traditional carbon-based fuel, while electrical energy will be harvested from exhaust and braking by two motor generator units. The two systems will work in harmony, with teams and drivers balancing the use of the two types of energy throughout the race.
The advent of this new technology means that the word 'engine' is no longer sufficient: instead the sport will refer to 'Power Units.'
Renault is fully prepared for this technical revolution, with its Energy F1-2014 Power Unit designed and developed at its Viry-Châtillon HQ in France ready for track testing.
'Grand Prix racing is a pioneering sport, representing the pinnacle of human endeavour and technological innovation. From the rear mounted engines of the 1930s to the ground effect of the 1980s, F1 technology has always been years ahead of its time. With cutting-edge energy systems and highly advanced turbocharged combustion engines, in 2014 F1 remains true to its DNA. We are absolutely at the vanguard of powertrain technology this year.'
Jean-Michel Jalinier, President of Renault Sport F1
THE NEW POWER UNITS
- 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 internal combustion engine
- Direct injection
- Max engine speed of 15,000rpm
- Potent Energy Recovery Systems incorporating two motor generator units – the MGU-H, recovering energy from the exhaust and the MGU-K recovering energy from braking
- Electrical energy recovered stored in a battery
- Combined maximum power output of 760bhp, on a par with previous V8 generation
- Double restriction on fuel consumption: fuel quantity for the race limited to 100 kg (-35% from 2013) with fuel flow rate limited to 100 kg/hr max (unlimited under V8 regulations) – cars will therefore need to use both fuel and electrical energy over one lap
- Engine development is frozen during the season, only changes for fair and equitable reasons are permitted
- 5 Power Units permitted per driver per year
Internal combustion V6 engine
V6 is shorthand for an internal combustion engine with its cylinders arranged in two banks of 3 cylinders arranged in a 'V' configuration over a common crankshaft. The Renault Energy F1 V6 has a displacement of 1.6 litres and will make around 600bhp, or more than three times the power of a Clio RS.
Contrary to popular belief, the ICE is not the easiest part of the Power Unit to design as the architecture is very different to the incumbent V8s. On account of the turbocharger the pressures within the combustion chamber are enormous – almost twice as much as the V8. The crankshaft and pistons will be subject to massive stresses and the pressure within the combustion chamber may rise to 200bar, or over 200 times ambient pressure.
One to watch
The pressure generated by the turbocharger may produce a 'knocking' within the combustion chamber that is very difficult to control or predict. Should this destructive phenomenon occur, the engine will be destroyed immediately.
Direct fuel injection
All Power Units must have direct fuel injection (DI), where fuel is sprayed directly into the combustion chamber rather than into the inlet port upstream of the inlet valves. The fuel-air mixture is formed within the cylinder, so great precision is required in metering and directing the fuel from the injector nozzle. This is a key sub-system at the heart of the fuel efficiency and power delivery of the power unit.
One of the central design choices of the ICE was whether to make the DI top mounted (where the fuel is sprayed at the top of the combustion chamber close to the spark plug) or side mounted (lower down the chamber).
One to watch
The option still remains to cut cylinders to improve efficiency and driveability through corners.
A turbocharger uses exhaust gas energy to increase the density of the engine intake air and therefore produce more power. Similar to the principle employed on roadcars, the turbocharger allows a smaller engine to make much more power than its size would normally permit. The exhaust energy is converted to mechanical shaft power by an exhaust turbine. The mechanical power from the turbine is then used to drive the compressor, and also the MGU-H (see below).
At its fastest point the turbocharger is rotating at 100,000 revolutions per minute, or over 1,500 times per second, so the pressures and temperatures generated will be enormous. Some of the energy recovered from the exhaust will be passed on to the MGU-H and converted to electrical energy that will be stored and can later be re-deployed to prevent the turbo slowing too much under braking.
One to watch
As the turbocharger speed must vary to match the requirement of the engine, there may be a delay in torque response, known as turbo lag, when the driver gets on the throttle after a period of sustained braking. One of the great challenges of the new power unit is to reduce this to near zero to match the instant torque delivery of the V8 engines.
On conventional turbo engines, a wastegate is used in association with a turbocharger to control the high rotation speeds of the system. It is a control device that allows excess exhaust gas to by-pass the turbine and match the power produced by the turbine to that needed by the compressor to supply the air required by the engine. On the Renault Energy F1, the turbo rotation speed is primarily controlled by the MGU-H (see below) however a wastegate is needed to keep full control in any circumstance (quick transient or MGU-H deactivation).
The wastegate is linked to the turbocharger but the auxiliaries occupy very little space. The challenge is therefore to make it robust enough to withstand the enormous pressures while small enough to fit.
One to watch
On a plane there are certain parts that are classified as critical if they fail. By this measure the wastegate is the same: if it fails the consequences will be very serious.
The MGU-K is connected to the crankshaft of the internal combustion engine. Under braking, the MGU-K operates as a generator, recovering some of the kinetic energy dissipated during braking. It converts this into electricity that can be deployed throughout the lap (limited to 120 kW or 160bhp by the rules). Under acceleration, the MGU-K is powered from the Energy Store and/or from the MGU-H and acts as a motor to propel the car.
Whilst in 2013 a failure of KERS would cost about 0.3s per lap at about half the races, the consequences of a MGU-K failure in 2014 would be far more serious, leaving the car propelled only by the internal combustion engine and effectively uncompetitive.
One to watch
Thermal behaviour is a massive issue as the MGU-K will generate three times as much heat as the V8 KERS unit.
The MGU-H is connected to the turbocharger. Acting as a generator, it absorbs power from the turbine shaft to convert heat energy from the exhaust gases. The electrical energy can be either directed to the MGU-K or to the battery for storage for later use. The MGU-H is also used to control the speed of the turbocharger to match the air requirement of the engine (eg. to slow it down in place of a wastegate or to accelerate it to compensate for turbo lag.)
The MGU-H produces alternative current, but the battery is continuous current so a highly complex convertor is needed.
One to watch
Very high rotational speeds are a challenge as the MGU-H is coupled to a turbocharger spinning at speeds of up to 100,000rpm.
Battery (or Energy Store)
Heat and Kinetic Energy recovered can be consumed immediately if required, or used to charge the Energy Store, or battery. The stored energy can be used to propel the car with the MGU-K or to accelerate the turbocharger with the MGU-H. Compared to 2013 KERS, the ERS of the 2014 power unit will have twice the power (120 kW vs. 60 kW) and the energy contributing to performance is ten times greater.
The battery has a minimum weight of 20kg to power a motor that produces 120kW. Each 1kg feeds 6kw (a huge power to weight ratio), which will produce large electromagnetic forces.
One to watch
The electromagnetic forces can impact the accuracy of sensors, which are particularly sensitive. Balancing the forces is like trying to carry a house of cards in a storm – a delicate and risky operation.
The intercooler is used to cool the engine intake air after it has been compressed by the turbocharger.
The 2014 Power Unit generates huge temperatures so the cooling requirements are far greater than those of the V8.
One to watch
Integration of the intercooler and other radiators is key but effective cooling without incorporating giant radiators is a major challenge and key performance factor.
RENAULT ENERGY F1-2014 POWER UNIT TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION
|Number of cylinders||6|
|Pressure charging||Single turbocharger, unlimited boost pressure (typical maximum 3.5 bar abs due to fuel flow limit)|
|Fuel flow limit||100 kg/hr (-40% from V8)|
|Permitted Fuel quantity per race||100 kg (-35% from V8)|
|Number of valves||4 per cylinder, 24|
|Exhausts||Single exhaust outlet, from turbine on car centre line|
|Fuel||Direct fuel injection|
|Energy Recovery Systems|
|MGU-K rpm||Max 50,000 rpm|
|MGU-K power||Max 120kW|
|Energy recovered by MGU-K||Max 2MJ/lap|
|Energy released by MGU-K||Max 4 MJ/lap|
|Energy recovered by MGU-H||Unlimited (> 2MJ/lap)|
|Weight||Min 145 kg|
|Number of Power Units permitted per driver per year||5|
|Total horsepower||600hp (ICE) + 160hp (ERS)|
HOW THAT ALL FITS TOGETHER
In 2014, the fuel quantity for the race is limited to 100 kg and the fuel flow rate limited to 100 kg/hr. If the conditions and percentage of wide open throttle are such that the driver demands maximum power for more than one hour, there is clearly not enough fuel to make it to the end of the race. However, since the car will be propelled by both fuel and electricity, the balance between the two will become a key success factor, with the goal to maximise speed and minimise lap time.
A standard lap
Under acceleration (eg. down the pit straight) the internal combustion engine will be using its reserve of fuel. The turbocharger will be rotating at maximum speed (100,000rpm). The MGU-H will act as a generator and recover energy from the heat and energy lost in the exhaust and pass to the MGU-K (or the battery in case it needs recharging). The MGU-K, which is connected to the crankshaft of the ICE, will act as a motor and deliver additional power to pull harder or save fuel, should the control electronics be so configured. At the end of the straight, the driver lifts off for braking for a corner. At this point the MGU-K converts to a generator and recovers energy dissipated in the braking event, which will be stored in the battery.
Under braking the MGU-H converts to a motor to keep the rotational speed of the turbocharger high enough to avoid the curse of the turbo engine – turbo lag. This is a phenomenon experienced under braking when the turbocharger speed slows as a lower volume of gas is produced. When the driver accelerates and more gas is produced, the turbo can take time to return to full rotational speed. To prevent this lag, the MGU-H turns to a motor and powers the turbo, keeping the rotational speed as close to optimum. When the driver exits the corner and gets back on the throttle, the MGU-H returns to a generator and picks up the energy from the active turbocharger and exhaust gases. The energy recovered can either power the MGU-K to keep the fuel burn as low as possible or charge the battery.
Over the course of the lap, this balance between energy harvesting, energy deployment and (carbon) fuel burn will be carefully monitored.
'The use of the two types of energy needs an intelligent management,' Technical Director for new generation Power Units, Naoki Tokunaga, explains. 'Electrical energy management will be just as important as fuel management. The energy management system ostensibly decides when and how much fuel to take out of the tank and when and how much energy to take out or put back in to the battery.
'The overall objective is to minimise the time going round a lap of the circuit for a given energy budget. Obviously, if you use less energy, you will have a slower lap time. That's fine. However, what is not fine is to be penalised more than the physics determines necessary. In the relationship between fuel used versus lap time, there is a borderline between what is physically possible and the impossible – we name it 'minimum lap-time frontier.'
'We always want to operate on that frontier and be as close to the impossible as we can. The strategy is subject its own limits, namely the capacity of the PU components and the Technical Regulations. The power output of the engine has its own limit, plus MGU-K power and the energy the battery can deliver to it are all restricted by the rules. It is a complex problem. The solution is therefore determined by mathematical modelling and optimisation – we call it 'power scheduling.'
'As a result, there will be a complex exchange of energy going on between the components in the system network, at varying levels of power over a lap. This is completely invisible to the driver as it is all controlled electronically by the control systems. The driver will be able to feel it but no driver intervention is normally required, so they can concentrate on the race in hand.
'Of course, there will be certain driver-operated modes to allow him to override the control system, for example to receive full power for overtaking. Using this mode will naturally depend on the race strategy. In theory you can deploy as many times as you want, but if you use more fuel or more electric energy then you have to recover afterwards. The 'full boost' can be sustained for one to two laps but it cannot be maintained.'
The fact that the driver does not control the balance between fuel and energy does not lessen the involvement of the driver in any way, and in fact his job will be more complicated than in previous seasons. He will still be fighting the car to keep it under control during hard braking, managing braking to avoid understeer into a corner, applying delicate control over the throttle pedal mid-corner, sweeping through complex corners, throwing the car into high speed corners. In terms of driving style, there may well need to be some adjustments.
'The throttle response will be different so the driver will need to readjust for this,' Tokunaga explains. 'Effectively, once the driver applies full throttle, the control systems manage the power of PU, with the aim to minimise the time within the given energy. However full throttle no longer means a demand for full engine power. It is an indication to the PU given by the driver to go as fast as possible with the given energy. He will still need to adjust for the different 'feel' of the car with the energy systems.'
Race strategy and race management will also be more flexible than in the past and the optimum solution will vary vastly from circuit to circuit, dependent on factors including percentage of wide open throttle, cornering speeds and the aerodynamic configuration of the car.
'In essence, engine manufacturers used to compete on reaching record levels of power, but now will compete in the intelligence of energy management,' Tokunaga surmises.
2014 Qualifying: flat out, as always
In 2014, the fastest car on a Saturday will still start on pole since the sessions will be run 'flat out'. The cars will still be limited by the fundamental fuel flow restriction of 100 kg/h but the 100kg fuel limit will be irrelevant since very little fuel is burned over one lap. The driver will therefore be able to use 100% of the allowed fuel flow and the entire energy budget from the battery store for his qualifying lap. However, should he choose to use all the energy on one lap, he will not be able to complete two flat out timed laps and will instead have to wait until the store recharges. This will lead to some even tenser sessions and a number of different strategic calls.
INTERVIEW WITH ROB WHITE
Renault Sport F1 Deputy managing director (technical)
'We believe that the Power Unit will deliver a lot of power and will be more than enough to make cars quick... we will absolutely see real speed out on track.'
How different do you think the Power Unit will be between engine manufacturers?
We have to imagine there is an optimum solution within the technical and sporting constraints and that different competitors will approach the optimum in different ways, at least in the beginning. Within each different PU project, the immaturity of the technology means that there could be rapidly changing performance, and as at the start of any radical new technical change, we expect progress will be extremely quick. The relative pace between competitors could therefore change more than we are accustomed to. But we should not underestimate just how competent the F1 teams are – the steps will be rough but large, and the convergence on an optimum solution will be rapid.
Will we still retain the speed under the new regulations?
The short answer is yes. What was an academic question in the beginning has become a lot more real from every point of view, but we have no need to worry. Obviously we are still in the virtual world and not on track but we have measured PU performance on the test bed and have matched the most optimistic predictions. We believe that the Power Unit will deliver a lot of power and will be more than enough to make cars quick. The way that the cars will deliver this performance will be somewhat different this year due to the PU and aero regulations. The driving experience will be quite different, but we will absolutely see real speed out on track.
And there will still be racing in 2014?
This year there will be a lot of factors that drive unpredictable outcomes and from most people's standpoint, unpredictable results are good in a sporting event. We need to keep hold of some of the fundamental elements; there will be 22 cars on the grid and when the lights go out the guy that gets to the flag first is the winner. In between there will be a battle for positions on track, meaning there will be real racing. The way in which the races are managed by the teams is one of the big differences between 2013 and 2014. It is fair to say there are several different ways to skin a cat and this will produce different scenarios as we explore different possibilities about how to manage energy and power. Although the tool kit that we have is different, the fundamentals of the races remain very similar. Ultimately it is for the drivers to go for the opportunities presented to them.
Will drivers have to change their style to the new regulations?
The drivers are astonishingly skilled to detect the limit of the performance envelope of a car and adapt their driving to reach the limits. In the past, drivers have always been adept at adapting to different systems, such as the F-duct, KERS and so on, without too much issue: it's always remarkable to observe just how very close they can get to the theoretical limits. I do not think there will be a discussion of whether drivers are 'intelligent' or not – it is about being adaptable, just as they were with any other change.
How has Renault Sport F1 had to adapt to the challenge of the new Power Unit?
It is fair to say that we have had to strengthen the organisation and refresh the infrastructure at Viry to adapt to the very new environment of the Power Unit. We have recruited additional staff, some seconded from our parent company to complement the skills and experience of the existing Viry team. Additionally we have had support from Renault specialists and dedicated resources off-site, such as the materials laboratory. At the factory there have been upgrades to existing facilities and investment in new facilities adapted to the development of the Power Unit and its sub-systems including direct injection, turbocharging and electrical content. In parallel we have created new facilities at Mecachrome including a new dyno where the full PU will be signed off before delivery to the track.
INTERVIEW WITH RÉMI TAFFIN
Renault Sport F1 head of track operations
'With the new Power Unit incorporating complex electrical and energy recovery systems alongside the standard internal combustion engine the workload pre-race will approximately double.'
How will preparations for a race change with the new Power Unit?
With the new Power Unit incorporating complex electrical and energy recovery systems alongside the standard internal combustion engine the workload pre-race will approximately double. As usual the chassis teams will send us the basic set-up information for each race about two weeks before the event. The engine engineer for the team will then combine this with Power Unit data in realistic conditions to simulate the general operating parameters of the car at that particular circuit. This will then be returned to the chassis teams for analysis with downforce and grip levels and other more advanced and detailed set-ups. This process is iterative and there will be several cycles of returns before we arrive at a set-up we intend to use at the track. As we learn more about operations this process will surely be refined, but we expect the man hours spent per team per race will run into hundreds – more than twice the preparation time for the V8s.
Will anything change on operations during a race weekend?
We have created an operations room to follow running in real time, which is a significant evolution over previous years when all data collection was monitored solely at the track. Additionally we will have greater support from the factory to analyse data post-sessions as we will repatriate information from the track to the factory more often. This quantity of analysis means we will use the dynos at Viry more often for 'live' simulations to optimise track performance. It's hard to say exactly, but I expect the dynos will be working up to three times more as there are more parameters to explore. With the V8 we could predict how it would go, and when there was an issue it was much more of a known issue. These units are vastly more complicated. In fact the only thing that is simpler this year is that there are no gear ratio changes as they are frozen at the start of the season. We can change once during the year but otherwise the eight gears are submitted to the FIA pre-season and they must be the same at each race.
How will the engine support teams be structured this year with the new Power Unit?
The new Power Unit comes with a very different set of challenges so we have strengthened the engine support team operating trackside. For each partner we will have a team of eight technical staff, with one engineer per car, one mechanic, and then one electrician plus a performance engineer, who will look after energy management and the set-up of the Power Unit relating to the balance between fuel and electricity. He will work in close collaboration with the chassis teams, particularly the strategists and the race engineers.
Will the modus operandi at the tracks change between Renault and the chassis teams?
Not fundamentally as we are already very well integrated with the chassis teams trackside. However the flow and the amount of information between the two halves will be much larger and more important than in previous years. The Power Unit will have two types of energy next year and the way we use them will have a much greater effect on the strategy and its deployment. With the V8 we decided on a strategy and knew at the end of the race we would be within 1% of the optimum. Next year we could have a delta of many tens of seconds if we get things wrong.
Will we be hearing different calls on the radio next year as a result?
We will hear different calls, for sure. We won't call out to change the fuel mixture, instead referencing fuel budget, or the quantity of fuel used per lap. Prior to the race the engineers will decide on the mix between fuel and electricity over one lap and we will have a target – or fuel 'budget' we will need to monitor to ensure we get to the end of the race. The engine engineers will monitor the rate of fuel consumption (both carbon and electric) and the driver will be told over the radio if he is over or under the fuel delta. He will have to manually adjust or alter the style to take this into account.
From 2014 there are just five Power Units per driver per season, but the different components (turbo, ERS etc.) can be changed independently of each other. How will you manage this system?
In an ideal world we will try to do as per last year, that is, we change everything together. The life of each part is designed to be roughly similar so we will try to keep the system as a whole, so changing the turbocharger, ERS and battery at same time. However there is also a system where you can change different elements if you need to. While we would not necessarily seek to run different life combinations, it does enable us to tailor the Power Unit to the specificities of each circuit should we need to. For example, we could run a new internal combustion engine at Monza with an old battery to get more power, or we could use a new battery at Monaco and an old engine as the sensitivity to electrical power will be higher and the need for outright speed a lot less. Keeping pace with it all seems difficult but I do not expect we will see too many people using the modular system in real life.
Will any of the tracks pose any particular difficulties?
In essence no more than in previous years. Monza will still remain the hardest on the ICE and high speed, while Monaco and Budapest will be critical for energy recovery. However what we will see is that the turbo will serve as an equaliser between ambient and atmospheric conditions so circuits that were not considered 'difficult' may have to be reassessed. For example, in the past we always said that Brazil was relatively low impact as we could use engine on the third race of its life due to the low atmospheric pressure that placed less stress on the internals. However since the turbo greatly increases ambient pressure inside the engine, the internal stresses are always the same and the amount of oxygen in the air becomes largely irrelevant. Similarly, in Malaysia we could always count on the humidity to limit the effect of the long straights but now there will be no power loss due to the lack of oxygen in air as we are mastering the quantity of air in the engine at all times.
Do you expect the turbo to take longer to warm up at the high altitude races as we saw in the past?
A lot of people remember when it used to take hours to start and warm the engines at places like Brazil and South Africa, but this time round I think we will be fine as technology has moved on a huge amount. Ultimately it's the performance on track that counts anyway!
What are the main challenges of the unit for the engine teams trackside?
First of all it will be how to dissipate the heat. The turbo and the electrical motors generate huge temperatures but the internal components will be running very hot too. Of course making everything work together – without interference – is a major challenge. The electromagnetic forces will be very high so managing all the systems simultaneously will be somewhat stressful!
Quick guide: Power Unit management and what can be changed between races
Unless he drives for more than one team, each driver may use no more than five Power Units during a Championship season. If a sixth complete Power Unit is used the driver concerned must start the race from the pit lane.
However this year the power unit is divided into six separate elements:
- Engine (ICE)
- Motor generator unit-kinetic (MGU-K)
- Motor generator unit-heat (MGU-H)
- Energy store (ES)
- Turbocharger (TC)
- Control electronics (CE)
Each driver can use five of each of the above components during a Championship season and any combination of them may be fitted to a car at any one time.
The first time a driver uses a sixth of the above six elements a 10-place grid place penalty will be imposed at the next race. This then starts a new cycle so if another (different) part is used for a sixth time, he will receive a 5-place grid penalty.
If a driver wants to use a seventh of the six elements, he starts yet another cycle so he will get a further 10 place penalty. The second time he wants to use a seventh part he will get a 5-place grid penalty.
If a grid place penalty is imposed, and the driver's grid position is such that the full penalty cannot be applied, the remainder of the penalty will be applied at the driver's next race. However, no such remaining penalties will be carried forward for more than one GP.
RENAULT ENGINES: A WINNING PEDIGREE
Renault has competed in Grand Prix racing for over 35 years, and has enjoyed success in every engine formula, as both an engine supplier and constructor.
Renault Sport F1 is the sporting division representing Renault's interests in Formula 1 and is tasked with designing and building highly-optimised engines that can be fully integrated into a chassis package by RSF1's carefully selected partner teams. Based at Viry-Châtillon in the south of Paris, the team has produced some of F1's most successful power plants and technologies.
Innovation has always been part of Renault's DNA. It introduced the first turbocharged V6 into F1 in 1977, leading to a genuine revolution that totally changed the face of Formula 1 and enabled unprecedented engine speeds to be reached.
Subsequently Renault dominated the 1990s with a brand new V10 architecture, which remains one of F1's most famous engines. Using this unit, the Williams and Benetton teams were victorious between 1992 and 1997, with six consecutive world championship crowns.
More recently, Renault set the tempo in the eight-year V8 era, winning 60 GPs (over 40% of the available victories), 66 pole positions and 5 Constructors' and Drivers' championships.
To date, Renault has won 12 Constructors' World Titles and 11 Drivers' World Titles in the championship, plus more than 160 wins. It also holds the overall record of pole positions for an engine manufacturer.
- 12 Constructors' titles
- 11 Drivers' titles
- 165 race wins
- 213 pole positions
- 165 fastest race laps
- 6142.5 points scored
- 300 podiums
- 295 races led
- 53,591km led
RENAULT'S F1 HISTORY
The journey started when Amédée Gordini, who had created Grand Prix cars under his own name, was recruited to design high performance cars for Renault. A new factory was founded at Viry-Châtillon, on the edge of the motorway leading from Paris to the south of France. It was inaugurated on 6 February 1969, and it was to be the launch pad for motor sporting success over the following decades.
The first Renault V6
The initial focus was on a new 2-litre V6 engine, which was officially launched in January 1973. The engine soon proved to be competitive in the prestigious European 2-litre sportscar series. That was followed by a move into the FIA World Sportscar Championship with a turbocharged version of the engine.
Renault Sport was founded in 1976, and that year saw the birth of a parallel single-seater programme with the V6 engine in European F2.
In sportscars the turbocharged Renaults proved to be incredibly fast, securing a string of poles and fastest laps, but bad luck robbed the team of good results. Everything came together in 1978 when Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud scored a historic victory, with another Renault coming home fourth. With Le Mans success finally secured, Renault could now focus on its other goal – Formula 1.
The option to run a turbocharged engine had been in the rules for many years, but nobody had dared to pursue it until Renault. It had quietly begun track testing with a 1.5-litre version of the turbo engine in 1976, and a short programme of races was scheduled for the following year.
Renault's first turbocharged F1 adventure lasted for 10 memorable seasons from 1977 to 1986, but its legacy has endured for much longer.
A steep learning curve
The V6 turbocharged RS01 made its debut in the 1977 British GP in the hands of Jean-Pierre Jabouille. Nicknamed the 'Yellow Teapot,' the car retired from its first race, but not before it had made a big impression. Four further outings at the end of the year provided more valuable experience.
'It was a very special decision to build the turbo,' recalls Bernard Dudot, who headed the technical programme. 'We were a group of young engineers at Viry-Châtillon, all very enthusiastic but having a rare understanding of the future. We were so enthusiastic that we convinced the President of Renault, Bernard Hanon, that we should do F1. It was a really crazy idea at the time. Fortunately he was very enthusiastic as well, particularly about the benefit of 'la compétition' and F1.'
Jean-Pierre Jabouille gave the prototype F1 car is first run at the Michelin test track at Clermont-Ferrand on 23 March 1976. It was just the start of a long journey as the team prepared to enter the sport.
'We needed to have the right level of power to fight the atmospheric engines,' says Dudot. 'But on the turbo we had the lag of a couple of seconds, and we never knew what to expect on the different types of track. The main problem was assembling the engine and packaging in the small car. It was heavy as well, and the weight balance was not ideal – that was one of our greatest problems at the start.'
Jean-Pierre Menrath, one of the young engineers working on the project at the time recalled the depth of the challenge. 'The most recurrent problem we had was to do with lag. The drivers absolutely had to change their driving style. And, of course, the heat dissipation of the turbo engines was the most restrictive aspect in terms of designing a fast race car. The radiators had to be bigger, which made the turbo engines more difficult to fit into single-seaters than the normally-aspirated engines.'
The education process continued through 1978 until Jabouille earned the first points for Renault – and for any turbo engine – with fourth place in the US GP.
'I have to say that we took some time to achieve the right level of reliability,' says Dudot. 'At first we needed to put the suppliers at the right level of service, for example the guys supplying the pistons, valves and so on. We needed to improve quality control. Progressively we achieved it, and over the years we were more reliable, and able to challenge a lot more.'
The quest for reliability went hand-in-hand with the pursuit of performance, and gradually Renault achieved both targets.
A move to a twin-turbo set-up for the 1979 Monaco GP was one of the big breakthroughs. The team had finally begun to conquer the critical problem of turbo lag, and Jabouille duly scored the marque's historical first win on home ground in Dijon, having started from pole.
It was a watershed moment as Menrath recalls: 'People started looking at us differently when we won our first race, the French Grand Prix. It was both a radical change and a revelation: suddenly, the turbo-powered cars posed a real threat. It made others realise that they had to start thinking about abandoning normally-aspirated engines and switching to turbo.'
Meanwhile the engineers continued to experiment, including changes to the radiators and cooling.
Progress was rapid. The team went from 520/530bhp in 1979 to over 1,000bhp in the space of five years.
When Alain Prost joined in 1981 the Renault team had developed into a regular pacesetter, and a World Championship contender. Indeed Prost only just missed out on the title in 1983. His methodology, precision and absolute sense of competition so nearly brought his first world crown: 'We saw turbo engines develop every year, but the driving style was very different,' he recalls. 'You had to find the right moment to accelerate – and anticipate when the power would come through. Getting the timing right depended on a lot of factors: the type of corner, speed, grip, the type of tyres, how worn they were and how much the turbo had been used. For the drivers, there were corners where you definitely had to brake a bit earlier, so you could accelerate earlier, and therefore be able to have the required power at the right moment. That's why there could be such big gaps between the cars, as well as drivers becoming tired towards the end of the race. Your brain had to process things differently.'
Meanwhile one-by-one other teams followed the turbo route, in effect acknowledging that Renault had got its sums right.
In 1983 the company became a supplier for the first time, joining forces with Lotus. Supply deals were also extended to the Ligier and Tyrrell teams in subsequent seasons. In Portugal 1985 Ayrton Senna scored his first-ever GP victory with Renault power, and the Brazilian proved to be one of the stars of the season.
The Renault management decided to close the works outfit at the end of 1985, and focus instead on supplying engines to other teams. Indeed in 1986 the Senna/Lotus/Renault combination proved to the fastest on the grid, as the Brazilian took eight poles – although frustration on race days meant that he scored only two wins.
In 1986 the entire field used turbo engines, and power figures were boosted to way beyond 1000bhp, a figure even the Renault engineers could not have foreseen just a few years earlier. 'At the end of 1986, we even had a test engine that was capable of developing up to 1,200bhp thanks to the use of new turbochargers, with a new design,' Menrath now reveals. 'At the outset, they were intended to be used at altitude and in the end, at sea level, they produced exceptional performances.'
However, a new challenge was on the horizon. The FIA had decided that turbos were simply now too powerful and thus had to go, and a new formula for 3.5-litre normally aspirated engines was drawn up. Turbos were to be gradually reined in and phased out over the 1987 and '88 seasons, before being outlawed completely by 1989.
Renault V6 Turbo Statistics 1977-86
Total Race Starts (All Teams): 482
Fastest Laps: 23
The V6 era, year by year
Jean-Pierre Jabouille gives the RS01 its race debut at the British GP, starting 21st before retiring. He also takes part in the Dutch, Italian and US GPs, qualifying as high as 10th in Zandvoort.
Up to June Renault concentrates on preparations for Le Mans, where Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud score a memorable victory. Target achieved, the focus now turns fully to F1. The team misses the first two Grands Prix of the year, but thereafter Jabouille runs a full season with the RS01. He qualifies an encouraging third in both Austria and Italy, and scores the marque's first points with fourth place in the USA.
The team runs a second car for the first time as Rene Arnoux joins Jabouille. The latter earns Renault's first pole position in South Africa with the RS01, before the new RS10 ground effect car is introduced. In July Jabouille scores a historic first victory from pole on home ground in Dijon, and later takes further poles at Hockenheim and Monza. Meanwhile Arnoux earns two poles and finishes on the podium three times.
The team is a consistent frontrunner throughout the season. Arnoux scores his first Grand Prix wins in Brazil and South Africa and also secures three pole positions, while Jabouille triumphs in Austria and earns two poles. Renault finishes fourth in the World Championship.
Alain Prost replaces Jabouille and immediately makes an impression. He wins the French, Italian and Dutch GPs and takes two poles with the RE30, while Arnoux secures four poles, but fails to win a race. Renault moves up to third in the World Championship.
Prost and Arnoux continue to spur each other on. Both men win twice with the RE30B, and they also take five pole positions apiece. Renault again secures third in the World Championship.
Arnoux is replaced by Eddie Cheever. Prost has a great season and challenges for the title, winning four races and taking three poles with the RE40. However he just misses out at the final race in South Africa, while Renault also finishes second in the constructors' table. Meanwhile Renault signs a deal for Lotus to become its first customer team, with Nigel Mansell and Elio de Angelis driving. The Briton earns the best result of the year for the new partnership when he secures third in the European GP at Brands Hatch, while de Angelis starts from pole in the same event.
It's all change at Renault as Patrick Tambay and Derek Warwick join the works team. Both men record podium finishes and score one fastest lap apiece with the RE50, while Tambay takes pole in France. However, there are no wins as Renault finishes fifth in the World Championship. De Angelis earns Lotus pole in Brazil, while Mansell repeats the feat at the new Dallas event. Meanwhile Ligier joins Lotus as a Renault partner.
Renault has a difficult final year as a works team, although Tambay does at least make the podium twice. Meanwhile Ayrton Senna joins Lotus and scores sensational wins in Portugal and Belgium as well while taking seven pole positions. De Angelis adds another win for Lotus at Imola, and also takes a pole in Canada. Jacques Laffite logs a fastest lap for Ligier at Brands Hatch and finishes on the podium three times, while Tyrrell becomes Renault's third partner team.
With no works team competing Lotus flies the flag for Renault in fine style. Senna wins in Jerez and Detroit, but shows his real pace with eight pole positions. Laffite claims two podium finishes for Ligier, while Martin Brundle takes fourth for Tyrrell in Australia on what is the final appearance for the Renault turbo engine.
The V10 domination
After a brief hiatus, Renault returned to the sport in 1989 with a new partnership with Williams. In its first year of competition the new partnership won two Grands Prix, and two further wins followed in 1990. During the latter season Adrian Newey joined Williams as chief designer, and then Nigel Mansell – who had used Renault power at Lotus – rejoined the team.
It was the start of an incredible era. By the end of 1991 the combination was the one to beat, and in 1992 Mansell proved so dominant that he secured Renault's first World Championship by August.
Former works Renault driver Alain Prost joined Williams in 1993, and he too won the title before retiring. Further championships followed for Damon Hill in 1996, and for Jacques Villeneuve in 1997. Williams-Renault also won the constructors' title in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1997.
Outside F1, Williams and Renault also collaborated on a touring car project which saw Renault Lagunas raced in the British Touring Car Championship. Success came quickly, and in 1997 Renault won the BTCC drivers', manufacturers' and teams' titles. The partnership also designed and built the iconic Renault Clio Williams, one of the most prized hot hatches of a generation.
In 1995 Renault expanded its involvement with a new collaboration with the Benetton team. Michael Schumacher won the championship in 1995, while Benetton won the constructors' title – ensuring that with its two partners Renault scored six straight title successes between 1992 and 1997. Between 1995 and 1997 Renault engines won 74% of races.
Renault officially departed Formula One at the end of 1997. Williams, Benetton and later the new BAR team used Renault-based engines under the Supertec, Mecachrome and Playlife names, and work continued in a small development cell at Viry.
Again, Renault's official absence was to be a short one. In early 2001 it was announced that the company had bought the Benetton team, and was to return in a full works capacity. The Renault name returned as Benetton's engine supplier that season, and then in 2002 the team was reborn as Renault F1 Team, with the chassis department still based at Enstone, UK, while working closely with the engine division in Viry.
In 2003 Fernando Alonso gave the new team its first pole in Malaysia, and then the young Spaniard followed up with his and the team's first win in Hungary. The following year Jarno Trulli gave Renault victory in the most prestigious race of the year in Monaco.
In 2005 Alonso was the man to beat as he won the drivers' title and Renault took the constructors' version.
Renault V10 Statistics 1989 – 1997, 2001 - 2005
Total Race Starts (All Teams*): 842
Fastest Laps: 88
*Including rebadged Playlife, Supertec and Mecachrome engines
THE V10 ERA, YEAR BY YEAR
The Williams-Renault partnership hits the track. Thierry Boutsen wins wet races in Canada and Australia.
Two wins and a first pole position show that the Williams-Renault partnership has potential.
Mansell joins Riccardo Patrese and the duo rack up seven wins and finish in second and third respectively in the drivers' championship. Williams finishes second in the constructors' table.
Williams-Renault and Nigel Mansell emerge as the dominant force. Mansell wins the first five races and secures the title at the mid-season Hungarian Grand Prix. By the end of the season, the FW14B has won 10 of the 16 GPs.
Prost replaces Mansell and Williams remains the team to beat. The Frenchman wins seven races, with newcomer Damon Hill winning a further three. Williams-Renault secures 24 consecutive pole positions from 1992 to 1993.
Williams-Renault secures the constructors' title and Hill finishes a close runner-up in the drivers' race to Schumacher, but the year is marked by the death of Ayrton Senna at Imola. Mansell returns to lift morale and wins one race, while Hill takes six wins.
Renault supplies Benetton in addition to Williams and its engines win 16 of the 17 races and take 16 pole positions. Hill and Schumacher wrestle for the title, with the German emerging victorious. Benetton-Renault wins the constructors' title at the first attempt.
Williams returns to winning form and Hill finally takes the title with eight wins. Newcomer Jacques Villeneuve adds another four wins to the total, while Benetton finishes third in the constructors' title.
Villeneuve leads the Williams team following the departure of Hill and wins the championship in a dramatic finale at Jerez, having taken six victories. New team mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen scores his first win, while Gerhard Berger adds a single success for Benetton. Renault withdraws from official engine supply at the end of the year.
Renault does not officially compete in the championship however Mecachrome and Playlife use the basic engine model to supply Williams and Benetton respectively.
The Mecachrome engine is rebadged as Supertec, and supply continues to Williams. Benetton uses Playlife for a second season.
Benetton continues to use the Playlife engine while Arrows picks up the Supertec deal following Williams' switch to BMW.
The Renault name returns to F1 following the conclusion of a deal to purchase the Benetton team, but initially the chassis name is unchanged.
Benetton is reborn as the Renault F1 Team, and the outfit shows good progress as it finishes fourth in the championship.
The team takes its first victory under the Renault name when Fernando Alonso wins from pole in Hungary. The Spaniard also takes pole in Malaysia as the team again finishes fourth in the championship.
The team finishes third in the championship, with Trulli winning the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix.
Alonso wins seven races and at the final race secures the World Championship. Fisichella also wins one race and helps Renault to its first constructors' title.
V FOR VICTORY IN THE V8 ERA
Despite the huge change from V10 to V8 technology for 2006, the Renault F1 Team was able to sustain its momentum as it again captured both titles with Fernando Alonso.
Supplying other teams had long been a Renault policy, and in 2007 a new partnership was formed with Red Bull Racing.
The dark blue cars soon moved up the grid, and in 2009 Sebastian Vettel gave RBR its first victory and earned the team runner-up spot in the constructors' championship. In 2010 both drivers were title contenders from the start of the season. At the end of the year Vettel emerged triumphant as the youngest champion in the history of the sport, while Red Bull-Renault earned the constructors' championship.
In 2010 Renault had begun the process of withdrawing from team ownership. The 2011 season marked the dawn of another chapter in the company's history as it returned to its core activity of engine supply, releasing its remaining shares in the Renault F1 Team. Under its new ownership, the team was now known as Lotus Renault GP, while Renault also supplied Team Lotus with engines.
Meanwhile Sebastian Vettel proved unstoppable in the World Championship, breaking all the records as he secured his second title with four races to go. Renault also powered Red Bull Racing to a second constructors' title.
For 2012 Renault continued its successful partnership with Red Bull, with Vettel becoming the youngest-ever triple World Champion. The team also became triple constructors' champions, while Lotus F1 Team duly returned to its winning ways with a superb win in Abu Dhabi. Williams F1 Team came back to the Renault fold for the first time since 1997. It took just five races for the partnership to get back to top form as Pastor Maldonado secured a win in the Spanish Grand Prix. Alongside Caterham F1 Team, as Team Lotus became known, the four Renault engined teams finished in the top ten of the constructors' championship.
If 2012 was remarkable, 2013 proved more so. Red Bull romped to the double championship crowns, the first time in over 20 years that a constructor-engine partnership has achieved such an unbroken run of success. In fact, only once in the history of the sport has a partnership achieved a similar feat (McLaren-Honda from 1988 – 1991). With Lotus F1 Team adding a further win, Renault engines secured a total of 14 wins and 916 points in the final year of the V8.
Throughout the era, the V8 engine developed by 250 engineers at Viry-Châtillon dominated. With 5 Constructors' titles with two partners, Red Bull Racing (2010-2011-2012-2013) and Renault F1 Team (2006), over 40% of the available wins and a record number of pole positions, Renault set the bar extremely high.
Renault V8 Statistics 2006 – 2013
Total Race Starts (All Teams*): 746
Fastest Laps: 56
THE V8 ERA, YEAR BY YEAR
Using the new Renault V8 engine Alonso wins seven races and takes his second championship. A win for Fisichella helps Renault to successfully defend its constructors' title.
Renault teams up with Red Bull Racing. Renault finishes third in the constructors' championship and between RBR and Renault the RS27 engine chalks up 75 points.
Alonso returns to Renault, winning two races. The team finishes fourth in the constructors' championship with two wins*. Red Bull continues to grow in strength, ending the year with a string of points' finishes.
Red Bull scores its first pole position and win in China and finishes the season with three consecutive victories. The RS27 engine secures six pole positions between RBR and Renault. Alonso takes one pole position, but does not win a race.
Renault announces the partial sale of the team to Genii Capital but continues to compete under the Renault F1 Team banner. The RBR-Renault partnership flourishes. Red Bull wins nine of the 19 races and secures its first constructors' championship at the Brazilian GP. Vettel is crowned champion at the final race of the year.
Renault refocuses activities around engine supply and creates Renault Sport F1. Team Lotus joins the Renault fold. Red Bull picks up where it left off, with 11 wins for Vettel and one for Webber to cruise to both titles. The newly named Lotus Renault GP scores two podiums while new recruit Team Lotus finishes 10th in the constructors' championship.
Renault teams up with Williams for the first time since 1997 and scores a win in Spain. Red Bull makes it three in a row with the triple-double with seven wins, while Lotus scores a further victory. In total the RS27 engine wins 9 races.
The final year of competition for the RS27 V8 engine. Red Bull wins four constructors' championships in a row with Vettel joining an elite band of four-time world champions. Lotus wins one race, bringing Renault's total season wins to 14. With five crowns of the eight-year V8 period Renault becomes the most successful engine manufacturer of the era.
Jean-Michel Jalinier President & managing director
Rob White Deputy managing director (technical)
Yves Arbeille Deputy managing director (business & administration)
Naoki Tokunaga Technical director, new generation power units
Axel Plasse Program and customer support director
Pierre-Jean Tardy 2014 Project Leader
Jean-Philippe Mercier Director of engineering
Léon Taillieu Director of Power Unit mechanical integration
Jean-Pierre Menrath Director of testing & development
Rémi Taffin Director of track operations
Olivier Gillet Director of Marketing and Communication