The ING Renault F1 Team today signalled its arrival in Formula 1 in style, with a spectacular media presentation in front of 600 VIPs and media in Amsterdam. Winners of consecutive world championships in 2005 and 2006, the team proudly unveiled new title partner ING and the striking new livery that will adorn the R27 cars throughout the 2007 season and beyond.
Renault F1 Team President Alain Dassas spoke of “exciting challenges” for the coming season, which will see the team’s championship campaign spearheaded by Italian Giancarlo Fisichella, in his third season with the team, and Finnish rookie Heikki Kovalainen. “Double championship success in 2005 and 2006 has earned Renault its status as a major force in Formula 1,” asserted Dassas. “Our Formula 1 championship success is a benchmark of excellence that we aim to meet in every area of our operations. The Renault F1 Team’s performance culture reflects the ambitious objectives of our company-wide plan, Renault Commitment 2009. Consecutive double championships are concrete proof that Renault can win in a demanding environment where success demands quality, technical excellence and reliability.
“We must now live up to that reputation. The team will present a fresh face to the world with the arrival of ING as our new title partner, and we are proud to welcome this major, global financial institution to Formula 1. But on track, our challenge will remain the same: we will be asking our technical teams and drivers to make Renault a championship contender in 2007.”
After evaluating the three top teams in Formula 1, ING selected the Renault F1 Team as the perfect fit for its first global marketing campaign. With a reach of 60 million clients around the world, ING is seeking to exploit its significant investment in Formula 1, which will also include title sponsorship of the opening round of the season in Australia, to grow brand awareness globally. The Renault F1 Team’s track record as a proven winner was a decisive factor in their decision to sponsor the reigning world champions.
“Our Formula 1 programme is a global sponsorship initiative which will help us to enhance the awareness of one unified ING brand worldwide.” explained Michel Tilmant, Chairman of the Executive Board of the ING Group. “Formula 1 is currently the best platform for a global sponsorship programme, as it has the potential to reach a broad customer base. We chose
Renault for its track record as a high-performing team. We are convinced that teaming up with the Renault F1 Team fosters our objectives of encouraging teamwork, performance culture and permanent progress. I am confident that the ING Renault F1 Team will remain highly competitive in the coming years. I wish the team a lot of success in the coming season”.
The ING Renault F1 Team’s 2007 challenger has been christened R27. The new car represents an evolution of the design philosophy that won world championship success in 2005 and 2006. Every part of the car has been designed to meet demanding performance criteria that will enable the team to maintain its front-running performance. The aerodynamic packaging represents a further step forward over its predecessor in terms of overall efficiency, and innovative solutions have been employed in a number of areas to achieve improved performance under stable technical regulations. The car also features a new ‘instantaneous gearchange’ seven-speed gearbox, and has been designed with maximum set-up flexibility in order that its dynamic characteristics can be tuned to suit the Bridgestone Potenza tyres that will be used by every team in 2007.
“I am very proud of the team’s work on R27,” commented Technical Director Bob Bell. “We have enjoyed two seasons of remarkable success, but there is no complacency at all at Renault. Finding performance under stable regulations always obeys the law of diminishing returns, but our technical group has worked hard to innovate and ensure that the new car represents a
genuine step forward over its predecessor in every area.
“The aerodynamic packaging is even more sophisticated than in previous years, while the gains from our new gearbox have been significant on track. We have kept the mechanical configuration of the suspension consistent in order to understand as thoroughly as possible the demands of the new Bridgestone Potenza tyres. We made a successful start to the adaptation process in the latter stages of 2006, and this will continue up to the first race. Everybody is expecting an extremely competitive season in 2007, and we are confident that our proven track record of world championship success will prove a considerable asset in that battle. The team is hungry to continue winning, and the R27 reflects that determination.”
The new car will be powered by the 2.4L V8 RS27 engine, which has been designed to the requirements of the ‘engine homologation’ regulations which will be in force for 2007 and beyond. Conceived to limit expenditure on engine development, these rules specify that no performance improvements can be made to the engine relative to the definitive specification that will be submitted to the FIA by 1 March 2007. The engine is based on the RS26 V8 engine that competed in the Chinese and Japanese Grands Prix last season, and has been re-tuned in line with modifications permitted by the regulations for the new maximum rev limit of 19,000 rpm that will be imposed on all competitors.
“Our work for 2007 has been very different to previous years,” revealed the team’s Deputy Managing Director (Engine), Rob White. “Rather than designing a new engine, as we have done every season since 2001, the regulations have limited our work to optimising how the engine operates within the new 19,000 rpm rev limit. Our development work has been conducted within the framework of the new rules and although the engine will be called RS27, it contains just 10% new parts – compared to over 95% in previous years. However, it remains one of the most advanced competition engines in the world, operating in an extreme environment, with tiny margins for error. As always, our goal will be to achieve the only acceptable objective for a topline
Formula 1 engine: zero-defect reliability. We have worked hard to blend this with competitive performance for the season ahead.”
The RS27 engine will also equip the cars of Red Bull Racing during the 2007 season, under the terms of a new engine supply agreement. The agreement specifies that both teams will use the same specification of engine, and a team of Renault F1 Team engineers will provide trackside support to Red Bull Racing. The new agreement marks the continuation of a tradition that begin in 1983, and which has seen customer Renault engines win 80 Grands Prix since that time.
“We are very much looking forward to the new challenge, which is part of Renault’s racing tradition,” explained the team’s Head of Engine Track Operations Denis Chevrier. “We will be looking to derive maximum benefit from every kilometre completed by a Renault engine, to improve the performance and reliability of all four Renault engines on track. But Red Bull Racing
will remain a competitor like any other for the ING Renault F1 Team. We have established very clear operating principles for the new relationship, and look forward to an honest, trusting collaboration with our new partners.”
The R27 completed its first shakedown in Jerez on 16 January, and the team tested at the same circuit from 17-19 January with two brand new chassis – a first for the team, that provides a decisive advantage in allowing both race drivers to accumulate maximum mileage in the R27 before the opening race of the season. The team completed over 2000 km in testing, with only
minor early-life reliability problems. Following their first test at the wheel of the new car, 2007 race drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen are already feeling positive about their chances for the new season.
For Giancarlo Fisichella, 2007 will be his third year with the team – and the opportunity to deliver on the promise glimpsed during the previous two seasons. Having been an integral part of the team’s championship successes in 2005 and 2006, the Italian will aim to add racewinning consistency to his natural speed in order to become a regular contender at the front of the field. An unquestionable asset will be his extensive Formula 1 experience, as he will be the third most-experienced driver in the field in 2007.
“The spirit of the team is strong after two fantastic seasons, and we are feeling optimistic,” explained the Italian. “The team has shown its confidence in me for the new season, and I am determined to repay that in the best way possible, out on track. The team knows how to design winning cars capable of fighting for the championship. That means there is a fantastic opportunity for me this year, and I am determined to make the most of it.”
Alongside Fisichella will be new team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, one of the brightest young talents in Formula 1. The Finn has completed over 30,000 km in testing during recent seasons, and has proved his racing credentials as a member of the Renault Driver Devel opment programme since 2002. The team has now offered him the rare opportunity to make his Formula 1 debut in a championship-winning team.
“I am very excited about the new season,” commented the Finn. “But I know that so far, I have achieved nothing at all. I pushed myself very hard last year in testing, to show the team that I was capable of doing the job. They had faith in me, and now it is my turn to deliver on that promise. It is a big privilege for a rookie driver to start his career in a race-winning car, and I am focused on doing it justice. This will be a season where I have a lot to learn, and I need to keep mistakes to a minimum. There will be pressure, but that will come from me, because I always drive myself to improve in every area. Overall, I am expecting 2007 to be a fantastic year for me. I am in the best possible place to start my career, and my focus is on preparing as thoroughly as possible for the first race – and the sixteen to come after that.”
The race driver duo will be aided by newly-recruited test drivers Nelson Piquet Jr. and Ricardo Zonta. They will bring a valuable blend of youthful talent and professional experience to the team, as it manages the transition to Bridgestone tyres while simultaneously building for the future.
At the ING Renault F1 Team, all the ingredients are in place to start a new winning era, under new colours. An exciting new title sponsorship and new faces in the driver line-up signal the beginning of a new era, but the foundations are firmly rooted in the title-winning success of recent seasons.
“This is no year of transition for the ING Renault F1 Team,” emphasised Managing Director Flavio Briatore. “We have always said that the team is what matters, and that success comes from the team spirit that unites us. 2007 is a fantastic opportunity to prove exactly that. There are some big changes for this season, not just at Renault but throughout the grid. We believe in our choices, and we are confident that they will help us achieve more success in 2007. It will be a year of tough competition at every level. Those are the conditions that allow the best teams to shine, and that is exactly what we intend to do.”