Eric Boullier has heralded a 'new era' for Renault in F1 2010, as the team goes back to its roots with a striking yellow-and-black livery for the R30 – and aims to 'fight regularly for the podium in the last part of the season' on the long road 'back to the front of the grid'.
Renault fell spectacularly from grace in more ways than one last year, not only struggling to make much of an impact on the score sheets with its uncompetitive R29 – with just a sole podium finish along the way courtesy of double world champion Fernando Alonso – but even worse, finding itself caught up in the most disgraceful example of cheating in recent sporting memory, with the fall-out from the explosive 'Singapore-gate' race-fixing scandal at one stage threatening to expel the French manufacturer from the top flight altogether.
Whilst Renault survived, for the car maker's executive board, enough was enough, and a majority 75 per cent stake in the Enstone-based outfit was sold in December to Luxembourg investment firm Genii Capital, who soon thereafter installed former DAMS GP2 Series team manager Boullier at the helm, in-place of Flavio Briatore, who had resigned from his post once the Singapore controversy came to light.
Two months later, and the unloved R29's successor the R30 was unveiled at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia at the weekend [see separate story – click here
], prior to a three-day pre-season group test at the Spanish track – and in harkening back to the halcyon days of early Renaults in the late 1970s and early-to-mid 1980s, the team is reviving its evocative past and going back to the future as it looks to its rebirth.
“I've received a very warm welcome from everybody,” Boullier affirmed of his new task. “Of course, the last four weeks have been very busy for the entire team, but I've been impressed with the motivation and work ethic of the factory. Now that the new season is approaching, we must keep focussed and push hard to deliver a strong performance from the first race. For me, the human side of the job is by far the most important.
“On the whole, the car build has gone to plan. The factories at Enstone and Viry have been working flat-out during the long winter months to ensure that we begin the new season in the best shape possible. Most importantly, we have just completed a considerable upgrade to the wind tunnel, which will play a major role in our aero development throughout the year. We also have a modern CFD facility, which complements the work done in the wind tunnel and vice-versa. It's still a relatively new technology, but it's now starting to reach a level of maturity and is giving us the results we always expected from it.
“There's also the mechanical design team, who have done an excellent job with the R30 and will continue to feed upgrades to the car during the season. Of course, there are always some issues to overcome during the winter, especially as the design office has taken some bold decisions with the design of the car – but everything has come together, we've hit our deadlines, we're ready for the first test and we're all excited to see if the car performs as we think it will.
“[Bahrain] will be our first chance to see where we stand compared with our competitors in real racing conditions – but we can go there safe in the knowledge that the entire team has put in an enormous effort over the winter, and determined to convert all that hard work into a strong performance on the racetrack. I would just like to take this opportunity to thank all the team members for their efforts over the last few months; I'm convinced that they'll pay off on the racetrack. These factories have been successful in the past, and they haven't forgotten how to win in Formula 1.
“I think the car looks stunning – it's eye-catching and reminds people of Renault's heritage in the sport. It reminds me of when I was a kid, watching [René] Arnoux, [Alain] Prost... It also sends out a clear message about Renault's commitment to Formula 1.”