By Adam Tate, Managing Editor
Renault is back in Formula One as a full time constructor for the first time since 2011.
The historic marque launched its new campaign today from Paris where Nissan-Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn and other VIP’s debuted the stunning RS16 in a temporary black livery. Kevin Magnussen’s place in the team was also confirmed at the launch after much speculation. Magnussen will race alongside Joylon Palmer in an all new line up for the team after Romain Grosjean’s move to Haas and Pastor Maldonado’s recent departure from the sport. Esteban Ocon has been signed as the teams official reserve driver and Carmen Jorda was present at the launch as well, though her official involvement in the team has yet to be announced.
It is the manufacturer’s third foray into F1, the first from 1977 to 1985 saw the team revolutionize the sport with turbocharged engines. The second period from 2002 to 2011 gave rise to Fernando Alonso’s two World titles but also the damning scandal of ‘Crashgate.’
While it has long been an open secret that Renault was taking over Lotus and returning to their former base of operations in Enstone, legal matters delayed the deal and subsequently the final design of the RS16 which made for some nerve wracking times for lead designer Nick Chester.
It’s been a real challenge to incorporate the Renault Sport power unit. We made the decision very late to put the Renault Sport power unit in and the amount of work you have to do to re-sculpt the chassis, change the cooling geometry, all in the matter of a few months, has been a really big effort for Enstone. But now we’re all the way through the crash testing it’s been a really good effort. – Nick Chester
The new car is based on last year’s Lotus, the E23, but with significant updates to accommodate the Renault Sport power unit and to improve aerodynamics.
The team is hoping it will be a successful stop-gap car as they will shortly begin work on their 2017 contender when the rules governing car design and planned to be radically overhauled soon.