Renault on Sunday presented Vitaly Petrov, Russia's first formula one driver, as the occupant of its second race seat for the 2010 season.
The 25-year-old, who finished the GP2 championship in second place last year and who reportedly has a big sponsorship purse, helped his new teammate Robert Kubica pull the wraps off the R30 car in the Valencia pitlane.
The single seater is painted all yellow and black, almost identical to the 30th anniversary tribute that was revealed a couple of years ago, but with red wing endplates colored red in deference to prominent sponsor Total.
"It reminds me of when I was a kid, watching Arnoux, Prost. It also sends out a clear message about Renault's commitment to formula one," said Eric Boullier, team principal of the newly Genii Capital-controlled team.
The R30 also features a McLaren and Sauber-esque shark fin engine cover, but otherwise appears a fairly conventional evolution of last year's R29.
The car itself is clearly an evolution of last year's Renault R29 as it still features a big and wide nose cone that aims to create a low pressure area under it. The much discussed nose is however still under development and may see another development before the start of the season.
Just like in 2009, the front wing is again a fairly simple solution. It is actually a surprise to see this largely unchanged wing as Renault pointed it out as one of the reason that its car in 2009 was not good enough to be a front runner. I will not be surprised if the team is hiding a newer version behind the scenes.
The sidepods are also a clear evolution, and contrary to the three other cars that have been launched, the Renault has sidepod air intakes that extend to the car's floor, instead of featuring rectangular inlets high above the car's floor.
The rear end of the car is still very much unclear as most of the tail is covered up. The rear wing does however still sport a single central support, with heat stickers attached to them. The team will no doubt be interested in the temperature of this element when the car is driving, as the engine's exhaust have been moved backwards and more to the centre of the car.
Meanwhile, as was predicted, Jerome d'Ambrosio and Ho-Ping Tung were unveiled as the team's new non-race drivers for 2010, and former technical director and acting team boss Bob Bell is now managing director.
James Allison, who while Bell was team boss acted as technical director, now takes up that role full time.
Q+A with Renault's Eric Bouillier
Eric Bouillier is only Renault's team principal for a month but the Frenchman is eager to give his thoughts about how he has started at Renault and how he feels about Renault's new retrostyle, re-introducing the black and yellow livery.
Q. Eric, you've been Team Principal for just over a month. How have you settled into the team?
Eric Boullier: I've received a very warm welcome from everybody. Of course, the last four weeks have been very busy for the entire team, but I've been impressed with the motivation and work ethic of the factory. Now that the new season is approaching, we must keep focused and push hard to deliver a strong performance from the first race. For me, the human side of the job is by far the most important.
Q. Has everything gone smoothly with the new car build?
EB:On the whole the car build has gone to plan. Of course, there are always some issues to overcome during the winter, especially as the design office has taken some bold decisions with the design of the car. But, as I have said, everything has come together; we've hit our deadlines; we're ready for the first test and we're all excited to see if the car performs as we think it will.
Q. The R30 features a classic yellow and black livery. Are you pleased to see the return of these iconic Renault colors?
EB:For me it's definitely a good decision and I think the car looks stunning - it's eye-catching and reminds people of Renault's heritage in the sport. It reminds me of when I was a kid, watching Arnoux, Prost... It also sends out a clear message about Renault's commitment to Formula One.
Q. Let's talk about Robert Kubica - how much are you looking forward to working with him?
EB: We are delighted to have Robert on-board as he is clearly one of the best drivers on the grid. He's extremely quick, experienced, and is a real fighter who never gives up, which fits well with our attitude at Renault. Robert's approach will help push the team forward because he's just as hungry for success as we are.
Q. It's early days in the season, but what objectives do you have in mind for 2010?
EB: We clearly want to be back at the front and capable of challenging for podiums as soon as possible. It would be too optimistic to say we want to be there from race one, but the progress and simulations we have seen over the winter are encouraging. We also have the resources at Enstone to deliver good development steps during the season so that we continue to improve from race to race. The aim, then, is to fight regularly for the podium in the last part of the season.
Q. Talk us through the resources that will allow this aggressive development program?
EB: Most importantly we have just completed a considerable upgrade to the wind tunnel, which will play a major role in our aero development throughout the year. We also have a modern CFD facility, which complements the work done in the wind tunnel (and vice-versa). It's still a relatively new technology, but it's now starting to reach a level of maturity and is giving us the results we always expected from it. There's also the mechanical design team who have done an excellent job with the R30 and they will continue to feed upgrades to the car during the season.
Q. The first race in Bahrain is just over a month away. Are you looking forward to it?
EB: Absolutely! It will be our first chance to see where we stand compared with our competitors in real racing conditions. We can go to Bahrain safe in the knowledge that the entire team has put in an enormous effort over the winter and determined to convert all that hard work into a strong performance on the racetrack. I would just like to take this opportunity to thank all the team members for their efforts over the last few months. I'm convinced that they'll pay off on the racetrack.
Q+A with Robert Kubica
Today, the Renault F1 Team have presented their 2010 Formula One contender, the R30, at the circuit of Valencia, Spain. Robert Kubica, who was the first driver to be announced by the French outfit, talks about the expectations for the 2010 season and the new car.
Robert, you’ve had a long association with Renault throughout your career and now you’re
racing for Renault in F1. How does it feel?
"I’m very happy to be here and, as you say, I do have a long history with Renault. In fact my singleseater career started in a Formula Renault in 2001 and then in 2005 I won the World Series by Renault. That gave me the chance to test for the Renault F1 Team and started my journey in Formula One. Although my career took a different direction with BMW, it’s great to be back with Renault where I have a lot of good memories. I already know a lot of the people here and over the winter I have seen how motivated everybody is to improve our competitiveness and start winning races again."
You’ve followed the progress of the new car, the R30, closely over the winter. What are your first impressions?
"Obviously the R30 is bigger than the R29 because the refueling ban means we need a bigger fuel cell, which has had an impact on the design of the car. Last year Renault’s car was not that competitive so I’m being realistic because I know that we need to make up a lot of ground if we want to fight at the front. But the team have been concentrating on the 2010 car for a long time and I’m convinced that we are moving in the right direction. Even if we start the season in the midfield, I’m sure we can catch the other teams during the year. "
Renault is only your second Formula One Team so you must be excited by a fresh challenge
"Absolutely! I’m still relatively new to Formula One and I’m looking forward to meeting new people and learning how a different team operates. As I’ve already said, I feel that I have a special connection with this team and I like the attitude that Renault takes towards racing. The atmosphere here is very friendly and open, and the team knows what it takes to win so I feel very comfortable in this environment."
Will the refueling ban and introduction of narrower front tires have a big impact on the racing?
"I don’t think it will have a major impact on the racing, but it will certainly change the behavior of the car. For example, we can expect to see a huge difference between qualifying lap times and the lap times at the start of the race. When the car is full of fuel it will probably add 150 kgs of weight and that will have a huge effect on driving style – especially for braking points. With the narrower tires we will have to be careful not to wear them out too quickly and we will need to adapt the set-up and weight distribution to cope with this."
Although you’ve yet to drive the R30, what personal objectives do you have in mind for 2010?
"It’s a difficult question to answer. Based on my experience from the previous years, you never really know what to expect until the season starts because things can change so quickly, especially during the winter. When I was with Sauber in 2008, I remember the car did not meet our expectations at the start of the year, but within a month we had turned things around and I took pole position in Bahrain. So things can change very quickly, which is why it’s hard to say what my objectives are. My only hope is that the car is easy to drive because the new rules will favor cars that are not too sensitive – we need a car that behaves consistently in a wide range of conditions."
Q+A with Bob Bell
Bob, as the team looks forward to a fresh challenge, can you tell us about your new role in the
"I’m taking on a Managing Director role where I will focus on the day-to-day management of the Enstone operation. Indeed, we look forward to a great new challenge for this year and beyond, and I’m confident that the way the team has been structured will give us every opportunity to convert this into success."
What areas has the team focused on to improve competitiveness?
"The issues we had with the R29 were fundamentally aerodynamic as we lacked overall downforce compared with our competitors. To address this we’ve just completed an upgrade to the wind tunnel and we’re continuing to make good progress with our CFD tools. We’re well aware that we need to make up the deficit that we had to our competitors at the end of last year, but so far we’ve been hitting, and often exceeding, our targets in the wind tunnel. I’m optimistic therefore that the R30 can be quick out of the box so that we won’t have to spend another year playing catch up."
What more can you tell us about the changes to the wind tunnel?
"The old rolling road was well overdue an upgrade and so we chose to replace it with a metal belt road, which brings us in line with what most other teams are already operating. This means we can now start running 60% scale models instead of half scale models, as well as running at higher speeds of up to 50 meters per second. The new belt will be much more reliable and will give us more accurate results so that we maximize the time in the tunnel. Although we had to shut down the wind tunnel for the upgrade, we managed to get the work done in four weeks instead of the scheduled six, which was a remarkable effort. We also ramped up our CFD resources to full capacity to minimize the impact of the downtime of the tunnel."
What are your thoughts on Robert Kubica and what he brings to the team?
"Having Robert brings a dynamism to the team as we begin a new era. He’s a guy who is on the way up, is hungry for success, and that fresh impetus is a real positive that will help drive us forward. I remember when Fernando first came on the scene it was immediately clear just how good he was, and I feel the same way about Robert, especially considering what he has already achieved. He’s not a world champion yet, but I’ve no doubt that he has the potential to follow in Fernando’s footsteps and become a champion, hopefully with Renault."
Where do you see Renault in the pecking order as the season begins?
"We definitely have a better feel for where our competitors are performance-wise compared with the start of 2009 when everyone was starting with a clean sheet of paper. So in that sense it’s easier to set targets and we believe that we should be aiming to compete in the upper midfield when the season begins. We know we have the resources for a strong development capability during the year and the upgrades to the wind tunnel should help us find rapid gains. If all that comes together, we can be hopeful of ending the season challenging for podiums and ready to stage a championship challenge in 2011."
Q+A with Rob White
The Renault F1 Team took the covers off its 2010 challenger, the R30, today in front of assembled media at the Valencia circuit in Spain. Rob White, Deputy Managing Director (Engine), explains how the preparations for the new season have been going and what challenges lay ahead in 2010.
Rob, how have preparations for the new season been going in Viry?
"Like always, the period between the end of one season and the beginning of the next is one of intense activity at the factory. Our goal is to arrive at the first race knowing that we have taken full advantage of the available time and resources to maximize the performance potential of the car. As a consequence there is some uncertainty in the early weeks of the year and as we speak today we are not yet race ready, but we are on course to be ready for the first race in Bahrain."
What, if anything, is different about the 2010 engine?
"As we all know, the engine is homologated which means its specification is fixed, other than if the FIA authorize changes. This engine ‘freeze’ means we must seek permission from the FIA for any modifications and disclose full details of the changes to the FIA. The principal changes for 2010 are: countermeasures for reliability problems, minor changes for installation reasons, including the suppression of KERS, supplier requirements, and cost-containment measures.
"In addition, the engine must be validated for use in 2010: we have the same quota of eight engines per driver for 19 races instead of 17, so on average the engines must do more mileage. Also, the cars will be quicker in 2010 compared with 2009, so the duty cycle on the engine will be increased. Finally, refuelling is eliminated so we seek to be able to run lean to reduce fuel consumption for longer during the race."
What challenges does the refuelling ban present to the engine team?
"Firstly, with no refuelling, fuel consumption becomes a more significant performance differentiator during the race as the fuel in the car is carried for the entire race rather than being divided between pit stops. However, the performance effect of fuel consumption diminishes during the race as the fuel is used because the car obviously becomes lighter. On average the benefit of carrying 5% less fuel over the race distance will equate to a lap time gain equivalent to having 1% more power. So in 2010 fuel saving is an important development challenge in Formula One, just as it is for our road car colleagues.
"Second, managing the fuel in the car is a challenge. The car will be fuelled for the whole race so there will be no more ‘splash-and-dash’ pitstops at the end of the race. The challenge will be to get the car to the finish without running out of fuel, and without carrying excess fuel as contingency for measurement errors or systems malfunction, which would be a performance penalty. There are therefore development tasks to assure the accuracy of the on-board measurement and procedural tasks in the race team to extract the most performance from the car.
"A final factor in managing the fuel is its temperature: the fuel will be on-board for the entire race, and will get warm as it takes on heat from its surroundings. This is an additional challenge for our colleagues at Total and a further factor to optimize for the reliability and subsequently for the performance of the car."
Renault’s engines have a reputation for being fuel efficient – that should be a big advantage this
"It’s true that in 2009 we had a fuel consumption advantage over our competitors. Low fuel consumption is a performance advantage during the race and we hope to continue to be strong in 2010. However, it’s worth noting that this advantage will not apply to qualifying in 2010, as the grid will be decided with the cars running with low fuel."
Has the removal of KERS had any consequences on engine design?
"The removal of KERS has reversed a certain number of changes introduced for 2009. The power takeoff has been removed from the front cover and the gear drive from the crank to the KERS has been removed. In addition, some details of the wiring and cooling systems are different."
The grid was so competitive last year. Can we expect more of the same this year?
"The season will be intensely competitive, I am certain. The grid has changed a lot since 2009, and everyone within and around Formula One, myself included, is impatient to see how it will shake out. In addition to the new teams on the grid, in the world of engines we welcome the return of Cosworth. I would dearly like to see Renault solidly in the leading group, but it’s going to be busy at the front!"