Renault today unveiled their 2008 challenger in Paris, marking the return of Fernando Alonso to the team and partnering Nelson Piquet Jr in a bid to reclaim the Formula One world championship. Called the R28, the Anglo-French team hope the troubles they experienced in 2007 will be rectified and they can return to their dominant form last seen in 2006. The team continue with the title sponsor ING and thus the livery hasn’t changed much. However, along with the other new cars the aero features on the new chassis have been tweaked and developed to provide the drivers with a more stable and better performing machine.
After claiming the constructors title in 2005 and 2006, the departure of Fernando Alonso to McLaren sparked a downward trend for the team over the winter and their 2007 car was not as good. Although continuity was kept with Giancarlo Fisichella, rookie team mate Heikki Kovalainen took a while to settle in to the team. The squad only managed to collect 51 points and finished third (fourth if you include McLaren) behind BMW last year. However, through the complicated mess of last season comes the return of Alonso, and although the double world champion will again be partnered with a rookie, it is hoped the boosted morale will lift the team back to its feet again.
The R28 has already made its track debut with Alonso running the new chassis around Valencia last week. The initial feedback was good and no doubt the car will be tweaked further before the 2008 season begins in Australia in March.
There is only one winner of the championship, so it is not easy, but we need to be there fighting for the podiums and a 50 percent chance each time we start to be in the top four.
Fernando back in Renault is a big motivation, we are very happy, we know him for many years. To have him back is fantastic for Renault, for the team and our partners. Nelsinho is a good asset, we have another young driver. People always talk about why we don’t have a French driver, but we also achieve to have a super young French driver for the future. I am happy. We start the season with a high motivation and we want to be the best. Flavio Briatore.
2007 was a very poor year by our standards. For 2008, there are high expectations inside and outside the team, and it is down to us to give the drivers a competitive car. We have put the problems from 2007 behind us and in terms of the car design, we have looked at the problem afresh.
The team pushed very hard in all areas, and particularly on the aerodynamics. The front end of the car has come in for special attention with a brand new front wing and the front suspension. The rear end has also been heavily reworked, and we haven’t neglected the basics.
The car ran reliably in its first test, and we made encouraging progress on performance development last week. We are confident that the advances we have seen in the wind tunnel will be reflected on track. Bob Bell.
I know the team, the working methods and how Renault goes racing. We got down to work straight away, and I immediately felt comfortable with the engineers and mechanics. The welcome from the team was fantastic, and saw I lot of people I knew from when I was here before. I am happy to be back at Renault, and I think I will be more relaxed ahead of the new season. Fernando Alonso.
From first impressions, the car looks like a solid development from the R27, conforming to the standard of cars thus far with tightly sculptured sidepods, a bridged front wing and smoother lines flowing towards the rear. Renault have also moved away from mounting the mirrors on the sidepod, reverting to the tradition monocoque position. It was found last year that mounting the mirrors on the sidepods caused drivers to not see properly due to the increased vibrations around that part of the car.