Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn revealed Renault’s complete motorsport plans last week at an event held at the Renault Technocentre in Guyancourt, France. Along with the announcement of the new Renault Sport Formula One Team and the unveiling of the striking new R.S.16 vehicle livery, Ghosn also revealed the formation of Renault Sport Racing and Renault Sport Cars, which will be central to the motorsport program going forward.
‘Motorsports still spark the imagination of both enthusiasts and everyday drivers, and we are putting a comprehensive program in place today. Formula 1 is a big part of our efforts to boost awareness of Renault, particularly in markets where Renault is a newcomer, and will enhance the transfer of technologies from the track to our road cars.’ said Ghosn.
The primary revelation was the two new pillars at the heart of the new Renault Sport strategy – Renault Sport Racing and Renault Sport Cars.
Encompassing all of Renault’s motorsport activities including the newly created Renault Sport Formula One Team, Renault e.dams, Formula Renault 2.0, Renault Sport R.S.01 Trophy and other upcoming race programs, Renault Sport Racing will cover operations at the two Renault motorsport sites at Enstone, UK and Viry–Châtillon, France.
Renault Sport Cars will continue the development and commercialisation of the Renault Sport car portfolio, as an evolution of Renault Sport Technologies. Renault Sport is recognised worldwide for its excellence in hot hatches such as the Mégane R.S., Clio R.S., and the new Mégane GT.
The two divisions will work hand in hand to bring technical innovation from the track to the road, with the first demonstration of this new working relationship to be revealed at the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix.
But the event’s real showstopper was the unveiling of the brand new F1 challenger – the Renault R.S.16 chassis – which was developed and manufactured in Enstone, with the Renault R.E.16 power unit which will continue to be developed in Viry-Châtillon. In contrast to the iconic yellow and black livery first seen on the Renault Sport F1 cars in 1976, the 2016 Renault Sport Formula One Team vehicle is predominantly decked out in glossy black, with matte detailing in the rear, and accents of Renault’s signature yellow providing a striking new colour signature for the team.
Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer have also been confirmed as Renault Sport Formula One Team’s race drivers, and will be supported by Esteban Ocon, who joins the team as Third and Reserve Driver.
Other partnerships were also announced at the live-streamed event. Renault-Nissan Alliance partner Infiniti will continue its journey in Formula One alongside Renault and will enhance its involvement in developing the F1 power unit. The technical collaboration between Total and Renault will also continue in 2016. New partnerships have been forged with prestigious brands such as premium watch supplier Bell & Ross, evolutionary audio systems inventors Deviate and clothing company Bestseller, while existing relationships with Microsoft and EMC will continue in 2016. Gravity Motorsports (an affiliate of the Genii Capital Group), having worked tirelessly to ensure the team’s survival in extremely challenging circumstances, remains committed to its working relationship with the F1 team and also retains its minority shareholding.
In addition, the Renault Sport Academy was officially announced. With the objective of finding emerging talent that can be brought into Formula One, the Academy will also provide local markets and drivers with opportunities to actively shape the future of Renault’s sporting performance.
With these announcements, motorsport once more becomes an integral part of Renault’s brand identity and, ultimately, DNA.
The Renault Sport Formula One Team will debut to great anticipation at the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park in March. And while the newly formed team has a challenging road ahead, they are determined to establish themselves quickly as competitors.
“The ambition is not just to participate: we have no intention just to make up the numbers,” says Cyril Abiteboul, managing director of Renault’s racing group. "We are here to win. We have won in every category, there is no reason we cannot repeat that in F1. We know the way."