Home > Teams > Happy 30th anniversary Renault!

Happy 30th anniversary Renault!

July 1st, 2009

Jean-Pierra Jabouille, 1979A couple of days ago, in a post asking when will Toyota win their first race, I included a list of the current Formula One Teams and the years they won their first Grand Prix.

By chance today happens to be the 30th anniversary of Renault’s first Formula One Grand Prix victory by Jean-Pierre Jabouille at the 1979 French Grand Prix.

In 1977 Renault introduced the RS01; the first Formula One car to be powered by a turbocharged engine.  Completely different from every other car on the grid, the innovative but unreliable RS01 soon earned the nickname ‘Yellow Teapot’ and would often end the race billowing smoke.  The massive turbo lag also made the car uncompetitive on tight circuits.

Despite the problems, Renault were determined to make the new technology work, as Jabouille recalls:

The new technology was what interested Renault – they wouldn’t have come into F1 had it been a question of building another V8 like the Cosworth. They wanted that challenge, but on top of that, we were also developing Michelin’s new radial tyres. It was a lot of work, complicated work, in a short space of time, and with the engine, it wasn’t just a question of developing the technology, we then had to make it drivable. There was a world of difference between the engine delivering good power on the dyno, and being usable in the car.

The RS01 eventually developed into the RS10.  First introduced at the 1979 Monaco Grand Prix, the new car overcame the turbo lag by using twin turbos and had one of the new ground-effect chassis.

The RS10 went on to take five poles and Renault’s first win and in so doing kick-started the turbo years of the 1980’s.  Once Renault had claimed the first win for a turbocharged car in Formula One, all the major teams started developing turbos.  Soon the engines were producing up to 1500bhp or as Martin Brundle said ‘way more power than grip’.

Incidentally, the 1979 French Grand Prix also produced one of the most epic Formula One battles for second place between the Renault of René Arnoux and the Ferrari of Gilles Villeneuve.  After practically driving each other off the road in the final laps, Villeneuve crossed the line 0.24 seconds ahead of Arnoux in a race he would later describe as ‘my best memory of Grand Prix Racing’.

Categories: Teams Tags: ,
Comments are closed.