200 poles: Key pole position moments for Renault in F1
First Ever Renault Pole, Jean-Pierre Jabouille, South Africa 1979
Jabouille had been a key part of Renault’s F1 adventure form the very start, giving the car its debut at Silverstone in 1977. In 1978 the program stepped up a gear, and with the RS01 Jabouille qualified as high as third in Austria and Monza, two tracks where top speed played a major role. By 1979 Renault was ready for a full campaign with two cars as Rene Arnoux joined the line-up. In only the third race of the season in South Africa Jabouille earned Renault’s first pole, and the first ever for a turbo car, ahead of the Ferrari of Jody Scheckter. He retired from the race, held over two parts because of rain. In the course of the season he would take three more poles and secure the team’s first win on home ground in France.
First Ever Alain Prost Pole: Germany 1981
Alain Prost made his debut with McLaren in 1980, and after scoring points in his first race he endured a tough season with an often unreliable car. He then earned the chance to join Rene Arnoux at Renault in 1981. Arnoux had already been with the team for two years, but Prost soon emerged as a major force. He scored his first win on home ground in Dijon and qualified second in Argentina and Britain before securing a personal landmark with his first pole at Hockenheim. Although he led the race he eventually finished second to Nelson Piquet’s Brabham. Prost would go on to log 23 poles with Renault power, and won his fourth World Championship with Williams in 1993.
First Ever Nigel Mansell Pole: US Dallas 1984
Nigel Mansell arrived in F1 with Lotus in 1980 after Colin Chapman saw some potential in his countryman. He first hooked up with Renault with Lotus in the second half of 1983. The following year the 95T proved to be very competitive, Mansell finishing third in France and leading in Monaco before crashing out. Then on the crumbling street track in Dallas he did a stunning job to take his first pole position, ahead of team mate Elio de Angelis and the works Renault of Derek Warwick. Mansell led the first half of the race before losing the lead to Keke Rosberg. Three laps from home his gearbox failed, and after attempting to push his car across the line, he was classified sixth. Mansell, who earned a total of 18 poles with Renault power, would win the World Championship with Williams in 1992.
First Ever Ayrton Senna Pole: Portugal 1985
Ayrton Senna burst onto the F1 scene with Toleman in 1984. He quickly established himself as a star of the future before moving to Lotus for 1985. It was obvious that the Renault-powered 97T had a lot of potential, although the opening race in Brazil brought retirement. However second time out with the team in Portugal, and in only his 17th F1 race, he secured his maiden pole position, ahead of Alain Prost’s McLaren. Race day proved to be wet, and Senna put in a virtuoso performance, dominating the afternoon to record his first win as many big names struggled to stay on the track. In total the Brazilian would log 18 poles with Renault power, first with Lotus and later Williams.
First Ever Fernando Alonso Pole: Malaysia 2003
Fernando Alonso made his debut with Minardi in 2001 before spending a season as Renault’s reserve driver, alongside Jarno Trulli and Jenson Button. In 2003 he graduated to a race seat, and made an impact almost immediately, taking pole in the second race of the season in Malaysia. Alonso duly led the first 13 laps before pitting. He lost out to Kimi Raikkonen at the stops, and later lost second place to Rubens Barrichello, but still managed to secure third place and the first ever podium finish for a Spanish driver. Later in the season he scored his first win in Hungary, and in 2005 and 2006 he would win the World Championship with Renault, logging a total of 16 poles with the manufacturer.
First-ever Red Bull Racing Renault pole: China 2009
Red Bull Racing and Renault joined forces for the 2007 season; chief technical officer Adrian Newey keen to revive his connection with Renault engines – a partnership that had yielded multiple championship successes during his time with Williams. In the first year, Coulthard and Webber secured 16 top 10 starting positions, with the maiden podium coming at the European Grand Prix. In 2008 the partnership became regular points’ scoring contenders, but in 2009 Webber and the newly-signed Vettel really came to the fore as challengers for the podium. After a slow start the duo were invincible in China, with Vettel securing pole position by one tenth of a second and Webber third.
200th pole: Mark Webber, Korea 2012
Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber gave Renault its 200th pole in Formula 1 at the Korean Grand Prix. The Australian edged out his team-mate Sebastian Vettel to secure pole by the slimmest of margins to give Renault engines a double century of poles, only the second engine manufacturer to do in the history of the sport. Renault engines have started 40% of all races entered from pole and the Regie is now only nine poles away from taking the overall record of pole positions scored by an engine manufacturer.