The drivers’ championship may be the title that gets the attention of the public, but there’s no doubt about it: the constructors’ crown has a very special meaning within any F1 team. This is the story of a crazy few days at Renault…
Out in Shanghai, the team party carried on until the wee small hours – and then some – on the famous ‘Bund’, alongside the Huangpu river that runs through the heart of the city. But as Denis Chevrier said on the evening of the win, “When we win at the track, our first thoughts are for all of those people who we know are back at the factory.” And the track team needn’t have worried – the guys and girls in France partied for them on Sunday! Things began in the comfortable surroundings of the Atelier Renault for many of the tea members from Viry, before spilling onto the famous Champs-Elysées, up to the Arc de Triomphe where they did a lap singing ‘On est les champions’ (‘we are the champions’ – but not the same tune!). Monday morning brought more madness, with people massing outside the factory by the A6 motorway to shout to the world that Renault were champions. Then on Tuesday morning, an advanced party met at 05:00, destination Roissy. As the returning race team waited for their baggage, they heard the unmistakable clamour of their colleagues saluting the championship win. When they emerged, a joyous sea of yellow and blue welcomed them back onto French soil. And all that was before the ‘official’ celebrations began this afternoon…!
With apologies to Queen
The Renault F1 Team may have built a world championship-winning car, but style gurus might argue their musical taste leaves something to be desired! The drivers’ championship in Brazil was dominated by Abba’s ‘Fernando’, while in China, the new world champion serenaded the world to something approximating the tune of Queen’s ‘We Are the Champions’ from his cockpit! Back at Viry, though, the dyno testing team was determined to go one better. And so it was that a unique version of the Queen standard emerged from the secretive depths of dyno number 8 – a solo version of the famous song, played on an absolutely unique instrument, the Formula 1 V10 engine. It is remarkably tuneful– so take a listen here! We Are The Champions V10.
As time goes by…
There is a solitary trophy in the main corridor at Enstone. It sits unobtrusively guarding the entrance to the design office, the factory’s nerve centre, in a simple Perspex case. Yet it is also the holy grail: the World Constructors’ Championship trophy from 1995, the sole occasion Renault’s predecessors, Benetton, won the crown. Ten years on, though, it will have to get used to some company… One man who has lived through the decade that separates the two wins is Pat Symonds, then race engineer to Michael Schumacher, and now Executive Director of Engineering. So what’s changed? “We are all a lot older!” he jokes. “I think the real difference is the scale. At the end of 1995, when we won the championship, we had 227 people. The engine was, appropriately, supplied to us by Renault Sport, along with support staff to run it at the races, but it essentially arrived in a box. Fast forward to 2005, and we have just crossed the threshold of 500 people in Enstone, and there are another 250 at Viry. In 1995, we had a dominant season, but 2005 has been much harder, and those 800 people are what has allowed us to push the development all the way. In the final three races, we had suspension modifications, chassis improvements, a big aero upgrade and the engine in China. It was a complete effort at every level, and every one of those 800 people has played their part. What hasn’t changed is the sheer satisfaction of winning. This is the title that represents the whole team effort. In 10, 20 or 30 years’ time, the satisfaction of winning will still be there.”
Looking ahead, part one
For Renault, what does it mean to be double world champions? Firstly, it is the satisfaction of seeing its Formula 1 team excelling itself, demonstrating technical and human excellence against world-class opposition. But the real objective is to make this success into a tool for enhancing the image and awareness of the Renault brand, in a demanding commercial environment. So what’s at stake in the months ahead? Renault F1 Team President Patrick Faure explains. “Our titles have been won by an international team with a French heart. It is a fantastic advertisement for French engineering excellence that will accompany Renault in its expansion around the globe. Now, we must exploit these titles at every level of the company. The hardest work has been done in winning the championship, and now we need to move to the next stage, initially in our communication but then at the tens and thousands of Renault points of sale around the globe, to explain our success to our customers and reflect the enhanced image Formula 1 success has brought.” Success is not an end in itself, merely a beginning…
Looking ahead, part two
As the chassis race team returned to Enstone yesterday, and brought the 2005 season to a close with a well-earned celebration, technicians began laying up carbon fibre ‘plies’ in the moulds of… the R26. Formula 1 never sleeps, and the transition was immediate. What’s more, it carries a powerful message: there is never time to rest on your laurels. So just as the team must continue moving forward, so too the focus of its management is now firmly on the future. “We can absolutely repeat our success in 2006,” explains Bob Bell, Technical Director at Enstone. “We have no intention of making the same errors as some other teams have made in the past. There is no arrogance about our position, and we never take anything for granted. I think that happened to Ferrari at the start of this season, while McLaren clearly underestimated us at the end. But that won’t be our attitude next year. Our objectives will be set, and it will be a question of hard work to ensure we deliver them.”
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