F1 Racing (UK) - - THE CHAMPION CARS - 2005

Hav­ing quit F1 as an en­gine sup­plier at the end of 1997, Re­nault soon wanted back in, but in a way that would de­liver much greater mar­ket­ing col­lat­eral. That chance arose with an op­tion to buy the fad­ing Benet­ton team in 2000, but suc­cess didn’t come as quickly as ex­pected, partly due to the dom­i­nance of Michael Schu­macher and Fer­rari, and partly through Re­nault’s own fol­lies, such as the flawed ul­tra-wide-an­gle V10 en­gine con­cept they per­sisted with un­til 2003.

Un­der the bravura tech­ni­cal lead­er­ship of Mike Gas­coyne, they pro­duced in­ter­est­ing cars un­der a then-un­usual method­ol­ogy: two sep­a­rate de­sign teams op­er­ated in par­al­lel, shar­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and data dur­ing the rac­ing sea­son, and pro­duc­ing cars in al­ter­nate years.

Even be­fore the wraps had been taken off 2004’s R24, de­signed by a team led by ex-jor­dan man Mark Smith, an­other team un­der the aus­pices of Tim Den­sham had be­gun work on the R25 for 2005. By the time it was ready to run, Re­nault were al­ready part of the chas­ing pack be­hind Fer­rari – some­times poach­ing wins.

The se­cret of Re­nault’s suc­cess was the on­go­ing tyre war be­tween Bridge­stone and Miche­lin, and the lessons learned dur­ing a failed ex­per­i­ment with the wide-an­gle-vee en­gine. Where Bridge­stone were hand-in-glove with Fer­rari, so too were Miche­lin and Re­nault. And while the wide-an­gle-vee en­gine was a flop due to un­re­li­a­bil­ity and poor bal­ance, Re­nault’s en­gine depart­ment learned a lot about max­imis­ing us­able torque and fuel ef­fi­ciency with a low-rev ceil­ing – use­ful since the FIA de­manded en­gines should last for two race week­ends in 2005. Sim­i­larly, de­sign­ers found that the pain of adapt­ing to the ever-grow­ing weight of the widean­gle en­gine (as Viry tried to make it more re­li­able) brought gains fur­ther down the line.

The R25 had a more rear­ward weight bal­ance than many ri­vals, which gave bet­ter trac­tion and negated some prob­lems caused by the lat­est aero re­stric­tions from the FIA. It took the un­der­cut­side­pod phi­los­o­phy first seen on the R24 (and still de rigueur in F1 now) to greater ex­tremes, slant-mount­ing the ra­di­a­tors to max­imise sur­face area in a space with a smaller pro­file.

For 2005 the FIA banned tyre changes and Bridge­stone adapted poorly, leav­ing Fer­rari in the dol­drums. Re­nault and Mclaren won eight races each, but Re­nault’s bet­ter re­li­a­bil­ity handed them driv­ers’ and con­struc­tors’ ti­tles. Car­bon-fi­bre com­pos­ite mono­coque Dou­ble wish­bones, pushrod ac­tu­ated tor­sion bars and damper, front and rear Re­nault RS25 V10 3,000cc 800+bhp Re­nault 6-speed semi-au­to­matic 605kg 3,100mm Miche­lin Fer­nando Alonso, Gian­carlo Fisichella Bob Bell, Tim Den­sham

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