Hello and welcome to the third day of Sidepodcast's F1 Advent Calendar 2010. We are a few days in to our season review - a short show each day of December until Christmas, recapping the important events that shaped the season just gone. This is Day 3 - A Renault reinvention.
2009 was an embarrassing year for Renault. Their star driver Alonso was back in the team, but they were nowhere near their championship winning ways. They also suffered the indignity of the truth about Singapore emerging, and the subsequent fallout. Pat Symonds and Flavio Briatore were banished, not only from the team, but from the entire paddock. Bob Bell was promoted to temporary team boss, but they started losing sponsors left, right and centre. Alonso was also on the way out, and things were not looking good for the French team. We strongly suspected that Renault would be the next manufacturer to quit the sport.
Come the start of 2010, a new and invigorated team emerged. The Renault company sold a major staketo Genii Capital Investments, while a brand new team principal was put in place, one Éric Boullier. They reverted to Renault colours of old, with yellow and black stripes. I will refrain from ranting about the red wing mirrors.
Two new drivers were brought on board, in the shape of the tall, experienced and very consistent Robert Kubica, and the brand new Russian, equally tall Vitaly Petrov, a relatively unknown rookie. Kubica had already been confirmed under the old structure, and with a new management structure in place, the Pole wanted clarification of the team's aims and future. He was obviously satisfied with what he heard, as he was fully on board when the new Renault F1 car launched.
The team had lodged a request with the FIA to make a raft of improvements to their car post-homologation, and although the FIA weren’t keen on too many changes to the chassis, they did grant permission for some engine tweaks - supposedly for “cost and reliability reasons.”
Cost it turns out, was a big factor for the team, and early on in the year, Genii Capital boss Gérard Lopez requested that Bernie Ecclestone pay out the TV revenues in advance to them, to help with cash flow problems. Bernie refused, of course. There were suggestions that paying their staff was a problem at one point, but everyone stuck with it. Eventually the sponsors started to come back, and several smaller logos began appearing on the car - although one of them is unfortunately called SNORAS.
Towards the end of the year, Lopez indicated that he was happy with every single target the team had set themselves, except for the amount of money they had had to invest in getting things done.
Éric Boullier's position as team principal meant the temporary stand-in Bob Bell resumed his technical directorship. Midway through the 2010 season, it was confirmed that Bell had left the team, leaving very little in the high management ranks of the Renault of old. Towards the end of 2010, reports emerged that Renault were planning to pull back even further from F1, and may potentially focus on supplying engines only. The recently released 2011 FIA entry list suggests the name is likely to remain though.
Their 2010 performance was strong but not spectacular, we'll talk more on that later, I'm sure. Things are looking bright for the revamped Renault team, and I don't just mean bright in the yellow sense.
That's all for Day 3 of the F1 Advent Calendar 2010. We are about ready for the cars to return to the track, after briefly discussing testing in the first episode. Join me again tomorrow for Day 4, where we'll see drivers back behind the wheel.
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Filed under Mini Series
References Bernie Ecclestone, Bob Bell, Éric Boullier, Gérard Lopez, Pat Symonds
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