Silverstone, July 16, 1977: A yellow car is attracting attention on the starting grid ahead of the British Grand Prix. This Renault RS01 has sparked fans’ curiosity, ever since it was nicknamed the ‘Yellow Teapot’ during practice by the sport’s British teams, poking fun at the plumes of smoke appearing regularly from its exhausts!
Renault’s CEO at the time had imposed a condition on the brand’s entry into Formula 1: it must result in the development of innovative technologies. Following that instruction to the letter, Renault sparked something of a revolution by introducing turbocharging to Formula 1. This was an innovation that would soon be adopted by all teams – even those that had laughed at the Yellow Teapot in 1977. The RS01 was also the first Formula 1 car to run on radial tyres.
Until then, turbocharging in road vehicles had primarily been the preserve of trucks. This ground-breaking technology opened up a whole new range of possibilities in motorsport, but the Formula 1 rule makers came down hard on it by implementing a so-called ‘equivalency formula’. The upshot was that turbocharged engines were restricted to just 1.5 litres in size, as opposed to the three-litre naturally-aspirated units used by the rest of the field – but Renault Sport’s ingenious engineers could not be dissuaded that easily!
Since making its debut in 1977, Renault’s participation in Formula 1 as a team in its own right can be separated into three distinct periods: Renault-Elf between 1977 and 1985, Renault F1 Team from 2002 to 2010 and currently Renault Sport Formula One Team, which has been carrying the torch for the past year-and-a-half. In total, ‘works’ Renault teams have claimed 35 race victories and 48 pole positions in the top flight, but the crowning glory to-date has unquestionably been the back-to-back Drivers’ and Constructors’ World Championship titles achieved by Renault F1 Team and Fernando Alonso in 2005 and 2006.
Fernando Alonso and Renault won the Drivers' and Constructors’ World Championship titles in 2005 and 2006
Widely renowned for its innovations and supported by fans across the world, Renault quickly became a major player on the Formula 1 engine scene, too. Since 1983, the manufacturer has supplied powerplants to third-party teams over three major periods: between 1983 and 1986 with its V6 turbo (partnering Lotus, Ligier and Tyrrell), from 1989 to 1997 with the V10 (Williams, Benetton and Ligier) and since 2007 (Red Bull, Lotus, Williams, Caterham and Toro Rosso). These partners have considerably enhanced Renault’s already impressive record in the sport, tallying 133 additional race wins (without counting Red Bull’s three triumphs with the current TAG Heuer-badged Renault unit), nine further Drivers’ titles (four with Williams, one with Benetton and four with Red Bull) and ten more Constructors’ crowns (five with Williams, one with Benetton and four with Red Bull).
Following in this proud tradition of a burning passion for F1 that has been inspiring Renault’s drivers and engineers since 1977, Renault Sport Formula One Team is now taking up the challenge of rebuilding a team that is capable of fighting for the world championship trophy, while simultaneously developing technology that can be incorporated into the brand’s road cars. The 2017 campaign represents the second year of this project, with significant progress to-date for the team whose chassis factory is just a few miles down the road from Silverstone at Enstone, making this very much a home grand prix for Renault!
The British Grand Prix at Silverstone will get underway at 14:00 (CET) on Sunday, July 16.