Renault reveals new racecar, driver lineup for F1 return

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Renault today became the first team on the grid to reveal its new car for the 2016 Formula One World Championship. The announcement was made as part of a widespread restructuring of the Renault Sport division.

Pictured here is the new Renault Sport RS16 that it will campaign this season. The car features a black and yellow livery that manages to both recall the color scheme it used before Renault backed out of F1 and maintain some continuity from the black and gold the team ran under the Lotus name. With it Renault has brought its sister brand Infiniti along, taking a similar place as it did on the Red Bull cars over the past few years. Tech giants Microsoft and EMC also feature, as does French oil company Total.

Motivation comes from Renault's troubled power unit, which pairs in accordance with current regulations a 1.6-liter turbocharged V6 to an electric energy recovery system and an eight-speed sequential gearbox. Altogether the system is said to develop about 875 horsepower, but it's going to need to do a little better this season if it's going to keep up with its competitors running the stronger Mercedes or Ferrari engines. The underperformance of the Renault package is what has knocked Red Bull off its perch these past couple of seasons, and lead to the disintegration of the previously victorious relationship between the beverage-backed team and the French motor company.

With the unveiling of the new RS16, Renault also confirmed that Kevin Magnussen will be joining the team this year. The young Danish driver made his F1 debut at McLaren in 2014 after winning the Formula Renault 3.5 Series title the year before, but was demoted to test driver last season to make room for Fernando Alonso. Having made a strong initial impression with the second-place finish he achieved on his race debut at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix, Magnussen replaces Pastor Maldonado, whose previous contract was contingent on support from Venezuelan oil company PDVSA that is apparently now not flowing so fast with oil prices at their current low level. Instead Magnussen will drive the #20 car, while newcomer Jolyon Palmer, promoted from the reserve seat, climbs into the cockpit of #30.

The automaker chose to brand the team under the Renault Sport name in an effort to better align and promote its various racing and performance programs. Renault Sport Racing will encompass the F1 team as well as the Renault e.Dams team in Formula E and the various racing series it runs, including Formula Renault 2.0 (having withdrawn its support from 3.5) and the Renault Sport RS01 Trophy. Meanwhile, Renault Sport Cars will continue to focus on the company's road-going hot hatches. The company also announced the formation of a new Renault Sport Academy to foster new and upcoming talent on the formula racing ladder.

The French automaker has a long history in grand prix racing that stretches back to 1977. But this story really began much later in 2000 when it bought the Benetton team and made it its own. Renault subsequently sold the team to Genii Capital, which ran it under the Lotus banner for the past several years as Renault stepped back to an engine-supplier role. That ended late last year, and came back full circle, when the Renault bought the cash-strapped team back from Genii.

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- Groupe Renault Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn reveals Renault's complete motorsport plan.
- Renault Sport will be placed at the heart of the new strategy with two pillars: Renault Sport Racing and Renault Sport Cars.
- Renault Sport Racing to include Renault's extensive racing activities, including the newly-created Renault Sport Formula One Team and Renault e.dams.
- Renault Sport Cars to include the development and commercialisation of the Renault Sport car portfolio.

Groupe Renault Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn today revealed Renault's complete motorsport plans at an event held at the Renault Technocentre in Guyancourt, France.

Renault Sport will be managed by two entities: Renault Sport Racing and Renault Sport Cars.

Renault Sport Racing will encompass all Renault's motorsport activities, including Renault Sport Formula One Team, Renault e.dams, Formula Renault 2.0, Renault Sport R.S.01 Trophy, plus further customer racing and rallying programmes. Renault Sport Racing will cover operations at the two Renault motorsport sites at Enstone, UK, and Viry–Châtillon, France.

Renault Sport Cars, an evolution of Renault Sport Technologies, will manage the development and commercialisation of the Renault Sport car portfolio. Renault Sport is recognised worldwide for its excellence in hot hatches such as the Mégane R.S. and Clio R.S. as well as efficient and accessible GTs including the new Mégane GT. Renault Sport will develop its international footprint, brand appeal and portfolio growth with increased R&D investment.

Renault will use the new structure for two primary functions. Initially, it aims to promote the Renault Sport brand to a wider audience primarily using the Renault Sport Formula One Team and the global audience of F1. Secondly, it will use Formula E and racing activities such as the Clio Cup to showcase the image and design of other aspects of the Renault range such as electric vehicles.

Renault Sport Racing and Renault Sport Cars will work hand in hand to maximise technical and commercial synergies from track to road. The first demonstration of the relationship will be revealed at the Monaco Grand Prix.

'Motorsports still spark the imagination of both enthusiasts and everyday drivers, and we are putting a comprehensive program in place today. Formula 1 is a big part of our efforts to boost awareness of Renault, particularly in markets where Renault is a newcomer, and will enhance the transfer of technologies from the track to our road cars.' said CEO Carlos Ghosn.

To ensure the operational autonomy required to perform in the fast moving racing and high performance environment with the strategic corporate objectives and requirements of Groupe Renault, a supervisory board has been created, which will be chaired by Carlos Ghosn.

Renault Sport Racing will be headed by Jérôme Stoll as President, supported by Cyril Abiteboul as Managing Director. Frédéric Vasseur will report to the latter as Racing Director, responsible for sporting and technical matters. Renault Sport Cars will be headed by Patrice Ratti as Managing Director. Guillaume Boisseau, Groupe Renault Brands Director, will lead the marketing efforts of the group to ensure the alignment and activation of the racing programs with Renault's marketing strategy.

Renault Sport Formula One Team announced

At the core of the racing activities will be the newly-created Renault Sport Formula One Team. The new F1 challenger consists of the Renault R.S.16 chassis, developed and manufactured in Enstone, whilst the Renault R.E.16 power unit will continue to be developed in Viry-Châtillon.

A number of key appointments have been made in the F1 team to avoid any dilution of the specific requirements of Formula One. Bob Bell is appointed F1 Chief Technical Officer and will manage the efforts of Nick Chester as Chassis Technical Director and Rémi Taffin as Engine Technical Director. Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer are confirmed as Renault Sport Formula One Team's race drivers, and will be supported by Esteban Ocon, who joins the team as Third and Reserve Driver.

Key Formula One partners confirmed

Renault announced its partner portfolio at the event. Renault-Nissan Alliance partner Infiniti will continue its journey in Formula One alongside Renault and will enhance its involvement through a specific technology program developing the second generation of energy recovery systems (ERS) for the F1 power unit.

The technical collaboration between Total and Renault will continue in 2016.

Renault also announced new partnerships with other prestigious brands, including premium watch supplier, Bell & Ross, revolutionary audio systems inventors, Devialet, clothing company Bestseller as well as continuing relationships with the F1 team's current partners, including Microsoft and EMC. Renault will continue its working relationship with Gravity Motorsports, an affiliate of the Genii Capital Group, which will retain a minority shareholding in the F1 team. Genii and Gravity worked tirelessly to ensure the team's survival in extremely difficult circumstances and Renault is pleased to recognize this commitment as Gerard Lopez remains a non-executive director of the team.

Renault Sport Racing programmes further detailed

Former Renault Sport Technologies customer racing staff will now come under the banner of Renault Sport Racing under the continued management of Jean-Pascal Dauce. The new organisation will allow Renault to connect more efficiently the various categories to which it is currently committed, from rallying with the Clio R3T, rallye raid, and one-make track series including the Clio Cup and Renault Sport R.S.01 Trophy. Renault will also continue its Formula Renault 2.0 single-seater series. For more than 45 years, the series has given eminent drivers and champions the opportunity to start motorsport and reach its highest levels. To date, some 60% of current F1 drivers came through Formula Renault.

Renault's Formula E activity will also come under Renault Sport Racing. Renault has committed to the championship until at least season 4 with Renault e.dams team. The strategic importance of Formula E for the Renault brand is highlighted through the strength and stability of the management team composed of four-time Formula One World Champion Alain Prost and Jean-Paul Driot. Over the next seasons Renault Sport Racing will develop and supply a full powertrain composed of gearbox and electric motor to the team. Targets are ambitious, with an objective to win both the Drivers' and Constructors' title.

Renault Sport Academy

The Renault Sport Academy was also officially announced, with the double objective to find emerging talent that can be brought to Formula One and to provide an opportunity for Renault's markets to take an active role in the construction of tomorrow's sporting performance through promoting and following their local drivers.

With this announcement, motorsport once more becomes an integral part of Renault's brand identity and, ultimately, DNA.

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