Renault: life with Red Bull was “going nowhere”
Head of Renault Sport reveals how the cooling relationship with Red Bull pushed them to become constructors in their own right
Renault have returned to Formula 1 as constructors because they felt it was the only way they could enjoy success in the future (see cover story, p30).
Their relationship with former partner Red Bull had always been tricky, even when they were winning consecutive titles together, but it had soured irretrievably since turbo hybrid engines were introduced in 2014. Renault were also aggrieved that they had not received the exposure they merited from their involvement in F1 during their relationship with Red Bull.
Renault Sport boss Cyril Abiteboul said he felt the relationship with Red Bull was “going nowhere” and that Renault needed to rethink their approach. “F1 represents a certain value for Renault, so the question was, are we capable of being in F1 successfully for that value?
“It took a year to come back and say, with reasonable evidence, that it is possible to do it, within this set of parameters. With modern regulations, it is very difficult to be a successful engine supplier if you cannot control the full package, because you need to have a more holistic approach to the car, to approach the car as a system including the resource allocation.
“The frustration when you are in a customersupplier model with anyone – but in particular Red Bull – was that Red Bull were investing a fortune in the chassis at a time when the regulations were dictating that we had to invest much more massively in engine technology to derive performance and sporting results.”
Abiteboul said that in 2016 Renault needed to be “humble” in their expectations for next year. The focus will be on restructuring after the takeover of Lotus, especially in getting the French engine department and English chassis team working smoothly together.
Renault have recruited former Mercedes technical director Bob Bell, who occupied that role at Renault from 2003-09, to oversee this process. His appointment is likely to be followed by that of a new team principal.