At a snowy Viry-Chatillon

This morning at the headquarters of Renault Sport F1 at Viry-Chatillon, in the southern suburbs of Paris, the Renault company gave some details about its plans for the year ahead, and a little more insight into how things are developing with the 2014 engines.

Jean-Michael Jalinier and Rob White were joined by Gaspar Gascon-Abellan, the director of Powertrain Engineering of the main Renault company and by Renault Ambassador Alain Prost, who noted that it is now 20 years since his last World Championship success in 1993. The details of the season ahead were of little real interest, although the work is certainly keeping the team busy, as engines are prepared for the company’s four customer teams.

Much of the focus of the event was explaining more about the highly complex 1.6-litre V6 turbos that will be used in 2014. There was a very basic engine running on the dynos, although the Renault folks made the point that the finished result is going to be very different, as more lessons are being learned all the time about the planned units. This is all fascinating but wildly difficult to explain in a neat and easy fashion, suffice to say that the engineers are confident that they can produce around the same level of horsepower from a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, with recovery systems and a rev limit of 15,000rpm, than they can with a gas-guzzling 2.4-litre V8, revving to 18,000. Prost said that the new formula will help to align the sport more closely with the industry needs at the moment and allow those involved to demonstrate their technology and their expertise.

What was just as interesting was a quiet remark from Jalinier that at the moment Renault has no deals with any teams for 2014 and beyond. Clearly there are talks going on with the current customers: Red Bull Racing, Lotus F1, Williams and Caterham and Jalinier added that there is no agreement over the maximum number of engine supplies per manufacturer, and said that probably with three engine suppliers there would be some kind of agreement to have four teams apiece, to ensure that everyone has a deal. However he did admit that five teams might be an option as a maximum number. The 2014 engine package will cost around $26 million per team per year, compared to the current figure of around $20 million, when KERS and engineering support have been added to the basic price tag.

There was a clear feeling at Renault that more competition will be coming into Formula 1 in 2015 and 2016. The latter year is deemed to be more likely because that will give the newcomers the opportunity to see what solutions have been adopted by the three “pioneers” and that will give any newcomers the opportunity to know what NOT to do.

The general feeling was the first company to come in will be Honda, but that Porsche will probably follow, depending on the political situation within the sport. There could well be others.There have been rumours for some weeks that Gilles Simon, the man who formulated the new regulations and then went to work for the now-defunct PURE engine project, has moved to England and is already at work on a new project, with the speculation suggesting that this could be Honda, as the company has based its F1 activities there before.

Jalinier also said that Renault is paying close attention to the new Formula E and said that some of the Renault engineers were involved in helping the new series.

26 thoughts on “At a snowy Viry-Chatillon

  1. But Joe, what about the noise? The ladies love the noise! Race promoters will lose interest and put on shove-ha’penny competitions instead! 18,000 rpm good, 15,000 rpm bad! Pay no attention to the Bavarian public prosecutor behind the curtain! etc., etc., etc.

    1. There are plenty of road cars you can buy that have switches which activate different ducting, to improve the noise. One manufacturer even reproduces it and pipes it through the stereo system. If the engine noise turns out unsatisfactory, the broadcaster can always pipe new sound. So can the track announcer for that matter. I know, that’s silly, but I can’t think that noise would be a go or no go factor in the decision tree. Bernie talked about it, but he always has something else in mind when he says anything to the press.

  2. Would love to see Honda back again- the brand seems to be going in the wrong direction on the road-car side, and needs some motorsport involvement in my opinion.

    Would be interesting to see if Renault ever badges one of it’s engines as an Infiniti/Nissan at some point too.

    1. Honda does seem to be becoming a bit boring. Their Acura line looks like “Transformers” robots, waiting to unfold.

      1. Funny, how straightforward and convincing the Renault press release of September 9th, 2011 seemed at the time. If one reads it today, it looks rather more vague. Just as RBR, though willing to work closely with Renault, had kept an escape route open for 2014. The art of careful PR wording. 🙂

        Red Bull Racing and Renault announce new agreement
        September 09, 2011

        Red Bull Racing and Renault Sport F1 are pleased to confirm the extension of their successful partnership for a further five years. The new fuel efficient 1.6L V6-turbo power unit to be introduced from 2014 will be incorporated into the framework of an enhanced collaboration.

        Building upon the existing world championship winning partnership, Renault Sport F1 will continue to supply V8 engines and KERS Motor Generator Units to Red Bull Racing for 2012 and 2013, with the new agreement repositioning the relationship between Red Bull Racing and Renault to a premium technical co-operation.

        Within the new agreement, a technical joint venture will be set up, in which Red Bull Technology and Renault Sport F1 will collaborate to develop innovative technical solutions for the V6-based power unit that will be introduced from 2014. Red Bull Technology and Renault Sport F1 will contribute their respective know-how, experience and specialist personnel to the project to achieve a competitive and reliable power train to be used by Red Bull Racing and other customer teams.

        Bernard Rey, President of Renault Sport F1, commented, “We are delighted that the Red Bull Racing-Renault partnership has been extended for a further five years, which will take us to a decade of collaboration. Red Bull Racing and Renault share the views that stability is a fundamental condition to perform at the top levels of competition. As well as being a unique opportunity to showcase the performance of the Renault engines at the highest possible level, it is also a fantastic arena to develop the technology and expertise within the Renault-Nissan Alliance.”

        Jean-François Caubet, Managing Director of Renault Sport F1, added, “The V6 power units due to be introduced from 2014 represent a huge undertaking and to have the input, resources and vast in-house F1 car expertise of Red Bull Technology will help the team at Renault Sport F1 in Viry-Châtillon specify, design and develop a competitive unit from the start of the new regulations and optimize its structural integration into the chassis. Having this particular support will of course be to the advantage of our other team partners, who will indirectly benefit from the joint expertise of the Red Bull Racing and Renault Sport F1.”

        Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing Team Principal, said: “We’re obviously thrilled to announce this significantly enhanced agreement with the Renault-Nissan Alliance, who we have enjoyed a close working relationship with since 2007. Renault Sport F1 has always been very straight-forward to work with, which has been a contributing factor to the on-going success of the Red Bull Racing-Renault partnership. Together we have so far achieved 22 wins, 32 pole positions, 1130.5 World Championship points and two World Championships. As the relationship moves forward, we intend to build on this and look forward to working with the Renault-Nissan Alliance during future Formula One World Championship campaigns.”

  3. Joe
    When I was a lad a year younger than SCM a blown 1.5 Alfa competed with an unblown 4.5 Ferrari to some effect. So why are blown engines 1600s. Surely 800cc would be more appropriate. But then I am quite deaf now

    1. I would imagine that its to give relevance to Joe Public who are likely to have 1.6L engines in their vehicles at home. This capacity is being rolled out across various motorsports.

  4. Hi Joe – Just last week our magazine, Race Engine Technology broke the news that Gilles Simon (having left PURE) is now working with Honda Motorsport Development Division.
    As RET’s USA-based correspondent, I checked the source of that news item with our wonderful editor Ian Bamsey (co-author with you many years ago of the book Jaguar V12 Race Cars!).
    Ian told me that the news came from Gilles himself, adding that Simon didn’t confirm his project is an F1 engine – but one only has to put one and one together to come to that conclusion, don’t you think?
    Thanks – Annie

  5. Joe,
    Have you any idea of what has happen to the people associated with the PURE engine project? There was some – a few big name engineers – who had moved to it, one of which you have mention. Surely, after say 18 months or more they would have had something to show for all the work they did, hence potentially some value of some sort to someone. Maybe to say one of the big car companies who just might be looking around again at F1?

    I thought Craig, said they were correctly funded to deliver a propulsion system to teams, so what happen? Any chance of a detail follow up story on what happen or what is still happening there if anything. Smart engineers just don’t get up and go to a new start up, without knowing if the project will be successful or not.

  6. Joe – what is your feeling on the lead time to develop a competitive engine/KERS package? If anything, the Cosworth years have shown that the leading (and aspirational mid-tier teams) are better off sticking with the engine superpowers than going with an up and coming team that might not have the same experience or resources. The engine manufacturers working with the top teams should always be ahead of the pack with new developments, allowing them to be rolled out across the paddock (assuming they don’t have exclusivity agreements).

    1. The lead time is about knowledge. The pioneers have to learn, the next generation acquire and refine. Thus lead times reduce.

  7. Although I quite like the current reliability of F1 engines, from a pure racing point of view if you like, it wasn’t that long ago when attrition rates were higher. It may seem unfair to some but it does spice up the action and lead to some unpredictable winners. I would be surprised if next year’s racing isn’t peppered with a few strange results. Hope so!

  8. Joe, any take on what the Renault people have been up to with the engine mapping? And on this only affecting Red Bull and Lotus and not Williams + Caterham?

  9. Good to hear – Looking back at the history of the sport, Honda and Porsche are two big engine names that are currently missing, the other arguably being BMW. Shame Cosworth cannot continue but it’s hard to compete with large conglomerates as an independent.

    It’ll be good to see Honda get some positive exposure in racing again – after dropping the ball on the horse’s mouth that winning the 2009 World Championship would have been for the company. I understand there’s a liquidity trap, but why pull out after developing the best car, and after eschewing sponsorship the two years before? Just doesn’t make sense!

    I do think that for Porsche, it would be in their best interests to enter again, perhaps over Volkswagen and Audi, but I guess it depends on who they want to target and when they are able to enter. Maybe even use the Lamborghini brand name?

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