Renault lose interest in F1 despite strong season

2010 F1 season review

Robert Kubica, Renault, Monte-Carlo, 2010

Robert Kubica, Renault, Monte-Carlo, 2010

Renault enjoyed a resurgence in form in 2010 – but it seems that wasn’t enough to keep its parent company interested.

Today’s news that Renault has sold its remaining shares in the team to Genii Capital and Group Lotus have bought into them, signals a further dilution of Renault’s Formula 1 activity.

What a pity, for the distinctive yellow-and-black cars enjoyed such a strong 2010.

Renault team stats 2010

Best race result (number) 2nd (1)
Best grid position (number) 2nd (1)
Non-finishes (mechanical/other) 8 (5/3)
Laps completed (% of total) 1934 (85.65%)
Laps led (% of total) 0 (0%)
Championship position (2009) 5th (8th)
Championship points (2009*) 163 (74)
*using 2010 system

Question marks hung over Renault’s future at the end of last season as the team lost Fernando Alonso to Ferrari and saw Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds depart over the Singapore 2008 affair.

A reorganisation saw Eric Boullier take over as team principal – he later became managing director in Bob Bell’s place as well.

While Robert Kubica was signed in October last year the identity of his team mate wasn’t confirmed until the R30 was launched at the end of January.

Having ended 2009 at or near the back of the grid, the new car propelled the team forward. They made huge strides in aerodynamic development, reflected in the seemingly endless stream of new front wing configurations. It’s F-duct and exhaust-blown diffuser executions were particularly effective, in marked contrast to the likes of Mercedes.

Armed with a much better car than he had the previous year, Kubica went giant-killing. He split the Red Bulls on the front row at Monte-Carlo and brought the car home on the podium.

He was up at the sharp end again at Spa as the car ran its new F-duct for the first time. A botched pit stop, caused by Kubica struggling to get his car stopped in the wet pit lane, cost them a shot at victory.

Kubica was quick at Suzuka too and worked his way up to second at the start. Unfortunately it soon transpired the team hadn’t sufficiently tightened his wheel nuts and he was fortunate to avoid a huge crash.

Even so he was pleased enough with the team’s progress to sign an extension on his contract in July, taking him up to 2012.

It was clear from pre-season testing that Renault’s eggs were in the Kubica basket, as they shuffled test dates around to get him as much dry running in the car as possible.

That made life more difficult for rookie team mate Vitaly Petrov, who had a season of mixed results.

Inevitably he was some way of Kubica’s pace – the gap between them in qualifying was up to a second even in the latter stages of the season. There were quite a few crashes as well, including Suzuka and Korea (race), Monaco (qualifying), Shanghai and Catalunya (practice).

But it all came good in the final round of the season as he out-qualified Kubica (for only the second time all year) and raced to a strong sixth, incurring Alonso’s wrath on the way.

With Kubica in fifth place Renault’s decision to hold a fresh set of engines back for the final race paid off with their best result of the year.

It should be onward and upward for Renault in 2011. But it remains to be seen is exactly what they’re going to be called, for at the time of writing they’re one of two teams that believe their name to be ‘Lotus’.

Renault’s 2010 season in pictures

2010 F1 season review

Browse all 2010 F1 season review articles

Image ?? Renault/LAT, Bridgestone/Ercole Colombo, Pirelli

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