Re­nault’s road to re­cov­ery

From the sham­bles of two years ago, Re­nault has ex­panded its work­force and fa­cil­i­ties and now reck­ons it can chal­lenge F1’s big three

Autosport (UK) - - CONTENTS - By Jonathan No­ble

It said much about the grow­ing mo­men­tum be­hind Re­nault this year that, on the Sun­day night of the sea­son-clos­ing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff men­tioned the team as a con­tender to join the ‘big three’ in the fight at the front of For­mula 1 in 2018.

In­deed, the French car man­u­fac­turer’s sec­ond sea­son back as a works en­trant has been one where it has found new stature in F1 – al­beit with a few grow­ing pains here and there. On the down­side, Re­nault suf­fered too many re­li­a­bil­ity fail­ures to de­liver on the full po­ten­tial of what was prob­a­bly the fourth best chas­sis by the end of the cam­paign.

But the in­creas­ing pace of the RS17, the ever-boom­ing re­sources at En­stone, the re­cruit­ment of some key per­son­nel – in­clud­ing the con­tro­ver­sial coup of land­ing the FIA’S Marcin Budkowski – and that $6.5mil­lion bonus for cap­tur­ing sixth in the con­struc­tors’ cham­pi­onship in the fi­nal race lifted spir­its.

For Re­nault F1 man­ag­ing di­rec­tor

Cyril Abite­boul, the high note on which the sea­son fin­ished – es­pe­cially after the calamity of Mex­ico – is far more im­por­tant than any ex­tra fi­nances the team earned from com­mer­cial rights. “F1 is all about peo­ple,” he says. “You need re­sources, but that is not what is go­ing to make a huge dif­fer­ence for next year. But peo­ple, mind­sets, spirit, mo­ti­va­tion, that is huge. I believe so much in ev­ery sin­gle em­ployee and team mem­ber, who are go­ing to have an ex­tra el­e­ment of mo­ti­va­tion that will make so much more dif­fer­ence than a cou­ple of mil­lion.”

Change at Re­nault has been fast over the past two years. Since tak­ing over a Lo­tus team, at the end of 2015, where com­pet­i­tive­ness had fallen well be­hind and in­vest­ment had stopped, there has been an ag­gres­sive push. There have been new build­ings, new com­put­ers, new fa­cil­i­ties, new ma­chines – and a mas­sive re­cruit­ment drive that will see staff lev­els jump from 400 when Re­nault took over to nearly 700 by the mid­dle of next year.

Growth hasn’t stopped yet, as even Nico Hulken­berg has no­ticed in his first year on board. “It’s been a mas­sive im­prove­ment,” says Hulken­berg. “If you look at the start of the sea­son, in terms of per­for­mance and where we were in the peck­ing or­der and where we are now, we have made a lot of big steps for­ward. You have to un­der­stand where the team has come from. When Re­nault de­cided to buy the team back and make it a fac­tory team again, it was in a very bad state. So it takes the time to build it back up and,

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.