Tag Archives: Renault

Williams to switch to Mercedes engines for 2014

The Williams F1 team are to use Mercedes power units from 2014 onwards, after a new contract was announced today.

Williams have used Renault engines for the last 2 years, and this announcement comes as a surprise to many, seeing as it was believed that the two teams were to develop engines together for the 2014 season.

Since 2005, Williams have switched engine suppliers 4 times – Cosworth twice, Toyota for one year, and Renault for 2012 and 2013. This announcement with Mercedes did not specify how long the agreement would last for.

Having lost one of their clients, Renault have since announced that they will only supply “up to four” teams from next season onwards. Red Bull and Toro Rosso are confirmed to be staying with Renault, while Lotus and Caterham are still a mystery at this point.

Renault reveals look at 2014 V6 engine

Renault have become the second engine manufacturer to show a glimpse of what is to come in the 2014 season, as they showed off pictures of their new turbo V6 engine, set to be introduced next year.

Mercedes had previously given select journalists an audio sample from their new power plant, which was reported to be “sweeter” sounding than the current V8 platform.

Now, Renault have provided a new insight into the new engine formula, which they claim will be a huge boost for the sport and its manufacturers.

Renault Sport chief Jean-Michel Jalinier said that “It will be a better tool to communicate than the current V8 engine.We can get some fans back to F1.”

Technical director Rob White noted that the new engines are still going to be “very loud” and “very violent”, which may come as some relief to concerned F1 purists.

“You can see on the test bed that even with relatively slow shifts on a relatively low transient dyno, that gear shifts are rapid and violent. And the big glowing red thing at the back of the engine in front of the gearbox [Energy Recovery System - called ERS] is also going to be a thing of some spectacle.”

2011 final driver rankings: 18th – 11th

This is the second article out of 4, ranking all 28 drivers from this season. This section includes drivers such as Felipe Massa, Kamui Kobayashi and Jaime Alguersuari.

18th – Felipe Massa

The Pirelli tyres brought no improvement to Massa's form

The Pirelli tyres brought no improvement to Massa's form

Previous ranking: 14th

Review from previous ranking: “Ferrari need a second driver who can consistently take podiums, not struggle for 6th.”

The one thing I find more frustrating than Felipe Massa is those who keep praising him despite his disastrous pace. Every single year, we are promised a return to form by the Brazilian, and every year is a let-down.

This year, it was the Pirelli tyres that were to catapult Massa to the top, which of course never happened. While teammate Fernando Alonso took 10 podiums, one of which was a win, Massa was never higher than 5th.

A clear sign of his ineptness at the Ferrari was in India, where he was the only driver to find trouble with the kerbs – and did it twice. as well as this, he was not blameless in the spat with Lewis Hamilton – turning into the McLaren in India was ill-judged to say the least.

The best indicator of a driver’s pace is their performance relative to their teammate, and Massa didn’t even get half of what Alonso won. Even Mark Webber, who had a shocking season by his standards, was able to beat this.

Renault and Ferrari have, in recent times, shown that it is entirely plausible to end a driver’s contract prematurely. Why they haven’t done this with Massa yet, we’ll never know.

17th – Bruno Senna

Senna's first race was ruined by his own hand

Senna's first race was ruined by his own hand

Previous ranking: 24th (2010 half-way rankings)

Review from previous ranking: “Senna’s potential is still unclear.” (2010 half-way rankings)

After spending 2010 lingering at the back of the grid, the Senna name was thrown into the midfield of the grid, after Nick Heidfeld was given the boot. So far, Bruno’s impact has been unconvincing to say the least.

He qualified an excellent 7th at his first race of the year in Spa, but bottled it at the first corner. A pair of points were scored at Monza, but that was the only top 10 finish of the season.

Despite this, he showed interesting flashes of pace, generally being faster than Vitaly Petrov, and driving well at his home race in Brazil, before clashing with Michael Schumacher – the first time since 1993 that those two surnames have collided.

As the Renault and its radical front exhausts fell apart, it became clear that Senna was unable to demonstrate his prowess. I’m unsure as to his full potential, but many feel that despite the circumstances, he should have performed better in 2011.

16th – Vitaly Petrov

A single podium was the only high point of Petrov's season

A single podium was the only high point of Petrov's season

Previous ranking: 9th

Review from previous ranking: “It will be up to Petrov to take the majority of Renault’s points this year.”

As the Renault car became more and more hopeless, Petrov began to falter, and was being worryingly out-paced by new recruit Senna by the end of the year.

A podium in Australia was undoubtedly the standout moment of the year, but there wasn’t much to talk about after that. In Malaysia, a mistake by Petrov resulted in a spectactular launch into the air, which was the last race the team had any chance of racing at the front.

Apart from a 5th place in Canada, he was only able to snatch 9th and 10th places throughout the year, and only had 3 points more than Nick Heidfeld – who missed the last 8 races.

It was an improvement from 2010, but not improvement enough to keep his seat for next year, and I can’t complain about that.

15th – Sebastien Buemi

The wheels came off Buemi's season in the second half

The wheels came off Buemi's season in the second half

Previous ranking: 16th

Review from previous ranking: “Of Ricciardo impresses at HRT, then Buemi may still be under pressure for the race seat in 2012.”

After the unceremonious dumping of both drivers, Toro Rosso have indicated that they have had enough of their drivers. Buemi and Alguersuari tussled for the lead in the team throughout the season, but ultimately the better driver came out on top.

Sebastien had the upper hand in the first few races, adapting well to the Pirelli tyres. He was able to out-qualify Alguersuari, and conserve his tyres better in the races. However, when Jaime turned his season around, matching pace from Buemi was nowhere to be seen.

It must be considered that he suffered more than his fair share of technical problems, but the general consensus is that Buemi should have achieved more after 3 years in Toro Rosso, which is considerably more than what many other drivers got.

14th – Kamui Kobayashi

A difficult second half of the season for Kobayashi

A difficult second half of the season for Kobayashi

Previous ranking: 6th

Review from previous ranking: “Kobayashi continues to punch well above his weight with scintillating drives.”

The fans’ favourite overtaker suffered a disappointing second half to the season, while his teammate took the limelight.

The first half of 2011 was spectacular, with Kobayashi finishing in the top 10 7 races in a row, something that neither of the Mercedes drivers could achieve.

However, his qualifying pace began to falter alarmingly, and teammate Perez began to take control. Finishing the season with 2 points finishes was impressive, and helped him end the season with double what Perez achieved. However, it must be considered that Sergio missed out on two races which I feel he would have performed well in.

Overall, it was a decent season, but improvement is still necessary for Kobayashi.

13th – Jaime Alguersuari

A spate of points-scoring finishes was not enough for Alguersuari

A spate of points-scoring finishes was not enough for Alguersuari

Previous ranking: 12th

Review from previous ranking: “Alguersuari came very close to being replaced, but several good drives have rescued his career.”

Not good enough, I’m afraid. An impressive improvement came in the second half of 2011, but Alguersuari was still dropped at the end of the year.

A series of 18th-to-points runs were entertaining to watch, and a pair of 7th places in Monza and Korea were the high points for Jaime. Qualifying 6th in Spa was also an excellent performance, before he was cruelly taken out by Bruno Senna.

In the end, he was comfortably ahead of his teammate, where he deserved to be. However, holding up Vettel in Korean practice did him no favours with Red Bull, and earned him an severe dressing-down from Helmut Mark0 (which I’ve heard will be featured in the F1 review DVD).

Whether this politics hurt his chances at retaining his seat, we’ll never know.

12th – Nick Heidfeld

Heidfeld was a casualty of Renault's demise

Heidfeld was a casualty of Renault's demise

Previous ranking: 11th

Review from previous ranking: “Reliable driving has helped him in the races, but a lack of raw pace is holding Nick back.”

A surprise ditching by Renault saw Heidfeld out of a drive halfway through the season. Because of this, we will never know how he was to handle with the deteriorating R31.

A magnificent start in Malaysia, as well as holding up the McLaren drivers, saw Nick take a well-deserved podium. As the Renault slipped down the order, Heidfeld was able to take as many 7th and 8th places as he could. He was taken out on the first lap in Germany, and an exploding sidepod took him out in Hungary, which proved to be his last race.

I’m still confused as to why Renault bothered dropping Heidfeld, considering Petrov could hardly amass his points total with an extra 8 races in hand. He was a safe pair of hands, and consistently got the job done, aside from a calamitious error at the Nurburgring.

His main weakness was dire qualifying, which principal Eric Boullier was particularly angry about. Still, I feel that Renault was worse off without Heidfeld.

11th – Heikki Kovalainen

Kovalainen far exceeded the car's potential

Kovalainen far exceeded the car's potential

Previous ranking: 19th

Review from previous ranking: “It will be up to Kovalainen to secure 10th place in the Constructor’s Championship for the team.”

With HRT and Virgin constantly falling further behind, and Jarno Trulli proving lacklustre, it was always going to be up to Kovalainen to prove Lotus’ worth.

I admit that I had nearly given up on Kovalainen after his dismal years at McLaren – he recently said that those two years had drained all his confidence. In that light, going back to basics was the best possible move for Heikki. With little pressure around him, he has been able to re-invigorate his racing spirit.

Whenever a midfield car faltered, it was Kovalainen who snatched the opportunity to move into Q2, which he did three times. He absolutely demolished his teammate in every sector – qualifying (16 successes out of 18), and races, where he often finished half a minute ahead of Trulli.

A 13th-placed finish in Monza secured 10th for Lotus in the constructors’ championship. With luck, the team soon to be known as Caterham can finally improve to the midfield, with Kovalainen the driving force of the squad.

Grosjean joins Raikkonen at Renault

Grosjean will return after a 2-year absence

Grosjean will return after a 2-year absence

Former Renault driver Romain Grosjean will rejoin his former team next year.

He will be paired up with former world champion Kimi Raikkonen, forming one of the most interesting driver combinations on the grid.

Grosjean drove for Renault in the second half of the 2009 season, replacing Nelson Piquet Jr and joining Fernando Alonso at the squad. Despite not being too far off the Spaniard’s pace, he failed to score a point, and was dropped after the season finale.

He has since returned to GP2, where he finished 4th in 2009 despite missing the last 8 races. He won this year’s title convincingly driving for DAMS.

Romain has said today:

"There’s a big grin on my face at the prospect of getting behind the wheel of next 
year’s car, and I feel very privileged to be given this opportunity.

To be racing alongside a former world champion and someone who is hungry and 
returning to Formula 1 will be a great experience, and I’m sure will help raise my 
level of performance too.

I feel that my successful season in GP2 has helped me mature a lot, and I am a much 
more complete driver than I was last time I was competing in this sport.

Returning to Enstone as a race driver feels like coming home. I will not disappoint 
and I wish to thank all the people without whom this return to F1 would not have been 
possible. Total, [who have been supporting] me since 2006, and Gravity Sport 
Management, are first on this list."

 

Raikkonen confirmed at Renault in surprise move

Raikkonen will return to F1 after a 2-year absence

Raikkonen will return to F1 after a 2-year absence

Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen will return to Formula 1 next year.

The Finn will be driving with the Renault – soon to become Lotus – team, and it is currently uncertain who he will be driving alongside.

He left the sport after a disappointing couple of years after winning his first title in 2007. However, he said today that he couldn’t resist moving back to the sport after a year in the WRC:

"I’m delighted to be coming back to Formula 1 after a two-year break, and I’m 
grateful to Lotus Renault GP for offering me this opportunity.

My time in the World Rally Championship has been a useful stage in my career 
as a driver, but I can’t deny the fact that my hunger for F1 has recently become 
overwhelming.

It was an easy choice to return with Lotus Renault GP as I have been impressed by 
the scope of the team’s ambition. Now I’m looking forward to playing an important 
role in pushing the team to the very front of the grid."

This means that for the first time in the history of the sport, 6 world champions will be on the grid next March.

Regarding the second seat at the team, that' where things get more complicated. Vitaly Petrov still has a contract with Renault, but team principal Eric Boullier still has not ruled out Robert Kubica's return to the team, provided he is fit and ready.

As well as this, Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean are pushing for race seats, both drivers having driven for Renault in the past - Senna for the second half of 2011, and Grosjean for the second half of 2009.

 

Lotus, Renault and Virgin to change names for 2012

Lotus will be known as Caterham next year

Lotus will be known as Caterham next year

The Lotus vs Lotus battle has finally come to a conclusion, with both teams agreeing to change team names for the 2012 season.

Meanwhile, Virgin will formally change their name to Marussia, who began sponsoring the team several months ago.

Tony Fernandes’ outfit, currently racing as Team Lotus, will soon be known as Caterham. They will race under the name of “Caterham F1 Team” and will use a Caterham chassis.

Team Lotus CEO Riad Asmat had some interesting words to say about their team moving away from the Lotus-Renault dispute:

"We are proud of what we have achieved by bringing the Team Lotus name back to 
Formula 1 when many tried and although we are sad to say goodbye to Team Lotus 
we are excited about owning our own future and being in control of our own destiny.

Now we have no one to be compared to. We make our own history and we will remain 
green and yellow.

Now we look forward to an exciting future racing under our new team name of 
Caterham F1 Team. Please continue to support our very special spirit of never say
die and support us on the track as we move up the field and demonstrate that the 
good do win."

The Renault team, which is sponsored by Group Lotus (who operate Lotus road cars), will now take control of the Lotus name. Earlier this year, the British High Court ruled that Renault did not have the rights to use the "Team Lotus" name, which has now been settled with this announcement.

Heidfeld and Renault split, Senna confirmed for rest of 2011

Heidfeld has officialy left Renault

Heidfeld has officialy left Renault

Nick Heidfeld and the Renault F1 team have made a settlement outside of court, with the German confirmed to be leaving the team.

Heidfeld was booted out of his race seat for Bruno Senna in Spa, and Nick promised to take Renault to the Labour Court. However, Renault have confirmed that an agreement has been made between the two parties, including an “amicable settlement”.

A statement from team principal Eric Boullier reads as follows:

"Our disagreement with Nick has been the subject of much media coverage lately, and 
we are pleased to have reached a swift and reasonable solution.

Our separation process was already a painful one, and neither of us wanted to go 
through another legal hearing. We’re very grateful to Nick for the highly valuable 
contribution he’s made to the team. We certainly had good times together, in 
particular remembering our podium finish in Malaysia."

Heidfeld made a standard statement on his disappointment to be leaving the team, before briefly noting:

"One thing is for sure – I’ll be back racing at the highest level soon."

If Nick is referring to F1, then he may be out of luck. As far as I see it, the only potential drives for 2012 would be at Williams or possibly Lotus. If Williams were to be the case, then Heidfeld could join Pastor Maldonado at the squad, seeing as the team are in financial difficulty, and Rubens Barrichello doesn't bring much sponsor money.

However, this is still a low possibility, and we may have seen the last of Nick Heidfeld in Formula 1.

Meanwhile, Bruno Senna has been confirmed as staying in the second Renault seat, as expected.

Senna confirmed at Renault for two races

Senna has taken over Heidfeld's seat - for the moment

Senna has taken over Heidfeld's seat - for the moment

It has been revealed today that Bruno Senna has been confirmed at Renault for the next two races of the season.

While it appears as if the team want for him to race for the rest of the year, legal issues with Nick Heidfeld’s contract remain. It appears as if Heidfeld does not wish to leave, and his contract does not include an exit clause.

A brief statement from Bruno reads as follows:

"I am confirmed for this race and the next race. The intention is I will do the rest 
of the year but it is not confirmed."

The Telegraph is reporting that Nick Heidfeld is prepared to take Renault to court in order to keep his race seat.

Renault are yet to comment on this issue.

Heidfeld replaced by Senna? (Confirmed)

The BBC are reporting that Renault driver Nick Heidfeld has been dropped from the squad’s line-up, with Bruno Senna taking his seat for the rest of the year.

Heidfeld has endured a trying year with the Renault team, having failed to lead the team after the loss of Robert Kubica after a rally crash.

It has also been hinted that Renault are suffering from a lack of funding. While Nick demands several million euro in salary, Senna comes with substansial sponsorship money free of charge.

Romain Grosjean was rumoured to be lined up for a race seat, having performed exceptionally well in GP2  this year. He previously stood in for sacked Nelson Piquet Jr. in 2009.

While this story has been reported by a trusted source, the team are yet to confirm this story.

Heidfeld currently lies 8th in the drivers’ standings, 2 points ahead of teammate Vitaly Petrov.

Update: Renault have confirmed that Senna will race alongside Vitaly Petrov in this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix. A short statement was issued:

"Lotus Renault GP is pleased to announce that Bruno Senna will race alongside Vitaly 
Petrov at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.

Bruno will attend the Official FIA Press Conference tomorrow at 15.00.

A press release with further details on the matter will be issued tomorrow morning."

It is currently unknown is this switch for one race only, or for the rest of the season.

Buemi takes 5-place grid drop for Hungary

Buemi will take a grid drop after colliding with Heidfeld in Germany

Buemi will take a grid drop after colliding with Heidfeld in Germany

Sebastien Buemi has been ordered to take a 5-place grid penalty for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The stewards decided that he was at fault for causing a collision between the Toro Rosso and Nick Heidfeld early on in the German GP.

Approaching the Veedol chicane, Heidfeld was squeezed onto the grass by Buemi, then the Renault was launched into the gravel trap and out of the race. Buemi continued, but pitted for repairs to his rear right tyre.

Although the television images suggested Buemi squeezed Nick off the track, Sebastien claims “Heidfeld drove into me”.

This follows Buemi being disqualified from qualfying, after a fuel irregularity with his car.

In related news, the FIA has stated it will not take any action against Nick Heidfeld, who was issued a drive-through penalty (for colliding with Paul di Resta) before he crashed out.

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