Originally Posted on SJB Supercars - http://www.sjbsupercars.com/single-post/2016/02/04/Renault-Sport-Launch-Their-New-F1-Car-the-RS16
February 4, 2016 | Sean Smith
The Renault Sport, formally Lotus, F1 team have revealed at a live event in Paris their brand new car to officially begin the pre-season for Formula 1’s upcoming season, the RS16. Sean Smith examines the new machine that Enstone hope will propel them back to the front.
First of all it was nice to begin the new season with a proper car launch. It makes a change as most teams simply show their car briefly in the pit lane at the first test, upload a couple of choice photos to their website, or create awful pre-recorded videos which give away nothing of the car bar the jargon of how it will “challenge for victory” or “improve on last year”. The Renault launch made up for it though just by doing a proper launch with a crowd, their drivers, filmed live and free to access with some interesting insight into the teams challenges over Christmas and their clear objectives thrown in.
Many people will have forgotten that Lotus will no longer be on the F1 grid as of 2016; the squad based at Enstone were officially bought out and renamed to their previous guise, Renault, over the winter, much to the delight of all who work there. The team has almost entirely new staff from the top brass to the drivers, but the car, for now, at least remains in the gorgeous black it has sported since 2011.
The launch was presented mainly by Renault Sport F1’s CEO Carlos Ghosn who said a lot about the return of Renault itself as a works team. He certainly seems like the man they need to run a successful operation to take them back to the top but whether it’ll happen this year I personally doubt. He along with other senior staff including new team principle Frederic Vasseur and technical boss Bob Bell highlighted that the company, along with their partners at Infiniti (Nissan), were using the motorsport effort to increase and improve the marketing of their brands. Renault will certainly need that to work with their F1 team. It wasn’t lost on me that they boasted heavily about their Formula E success and their history with Alain Prost in the 80s, the next few cars the team design need to be successful or no doubt Renault will be moving their money elsewhere.
Renault will go into the new season with a whole new driver roster, ex-GP2 Champion Jolyon Palmer who beat Felipe Nasr to the title in 2014 will make his deserved F1 debut and be at least the 3rd Britain on the grid. Kevin Magnussen has finally been officially revealed to be Pastor Maldonado’s replacement as he makes a return to racing after a season and a race for McLaren in 2014 and 2015. And finally Renault have opted for Esteban Ocon, 2014 European Formula 3 Champion and 2015 GP3 Champion as their test and reserve driver. The 19 year old will be racing in a Renault backed GP2 entry in 2016, a wise move as he is yet to properly drive more powerful racing cars, although if he were to win I would hate to be Palmer or Magnussen this coming winter as he’s both French and a brilliant rising star.
Let’s move on finally to the RS16 itself. The car at first glance is an obvious evolution on the Lotus E23 it replaces, which isn’t a terrible start. At the moment at its launch stage we can assume the car simply has a lot of the upgrades Lotus wanted for the old E23 but couldn’t afford to make. The RS16 will likely be almost entirely changed by Australia, not least potentially the colour scheme, don’t be surprised if Renault swap around what is yellow and what is black on this car. As for current changes, the rear wing area is the most obvious difference of the car, the ‘Monkey Seat’ is gone and the rear wing endplates are more angular than the E23’s. The front wing is similar to last years but if anything it’s tidier, a winglet on both sides has gone from the middle of each cluster and the whole part seems simpler but this may just be for the launch model. The nose has an obvious tip to it, nothing nearly as large as Williams or Red Bull’s last year but definitely visible. The turning veins look enormous but that may be due to the boldness of the yellow on black colour scheme and the rest of the bodywork changes are hard to tell as F1 cars have become relatively generic and boring over the side pods back to the exhaust. On the face of it, however, the RS16 seems to have been generally tidied up over the E23 but otherwise for now is just an evolution.
Renault, perhaps more than any other team, will change their car most from now until Christmas as they throw millions upon millions of pounds at this project, the 1.6ltr turbo hybrid engine may still be the sticking point of their development, but we’ll have to see if Renault can do anything about that with their engine tokens this year, for the good of the sport and their very talented drivers we personally at SJB wish them well for the coming season.
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(Images courtesy of f1fanatic.co.uk, autosport.com, crash.net and gtspirit.com – please click on the images for the original sources)