Renault F1 Team’s chassis and power unit heads explains the work done by the French manufacturer over the winter and the changes at their factories.
It has been a tough run for Renault in the hybrid era whether it is the chassis or the power unit side but steady progress has been made with the improved constructors’ position in the last few seasons – it finishing fourth even in 2018.
There is still work to do to catch the heavyweights Mercedes and Ferrari while also keep itself ahead of Honda as Red Bull Racing claims that the Japanese manufacturer is already ahead of their French rivals in the power unit game.
The winter ahead of the 2019 F1 season gave another opportunity for Renault to fill in the gaps it couldn’t last time around. The 2019 rules has allowed them to play with certain changes like fuel and driver weight and also the wings on the car.
One of the biggest change at the Enstone factory has been the overall capacity and the different departments now together which eliminates the time gap. Speaking about it, chassis technical director, Nick Chester said: “The whole capacity of the team has come up.
“The current infrastructure is top-level with better machining centres for chassis machining where we can work to tighter tolerances. We’ve made improvements to the wind tunnel, we have a paint shop on site, which means we can push things later and still have top quality finish.
“The new clean room is fantastic, it’s double in size from its predecessor, making composite lay-up more efficient and that’s helping us push to get the car ready. All over the factory there have been improvements and at the same time we’ve been building the engineering capabilities of the team.
“We’re still recruiting, enhancing our work processes and the organisation is strengthening all the time.” He had word of praise for even the new driver recruit Daniel Ricciardo, whose feedback will be key in the 2019 car’s and engine development.
Chester feels the initial feedback was very similar to the level set by Nico Hulkenberg. Over at the power unit side, the call was there already in F1 2018 that Renault will produce new units to fill the shortcomings it had against its direct competitors.
Engine technical director Remi Taffin feels a satisfied person with the product they have developed in the winter as they pushed it late to embed as much performance and reliability to the power units, as they get close to sign off the race engines.
Like Enstone, the facility changes at Viry is on-going as well with a new building being prepped up to organise things in a better way. “We confirmed last year that the direction we were developing the engine was the right method and that meant we could continue our efforts into 2019,” he said.
“Viry has been very busy over the winter and we have worked as late as possible to embed as much performance and reliability. We have now built the test engines and we are about to sign off race engines. We’re satisfied with what we’ve been able to produce.
“We’ve pushed on the pure performance element while also keeping a hand on reliability. We are constructing a new building for all our operational activities in order to improve the fluidity of our organisation.
“We will continue working on our test tools, ensuring we have the right and most up to date technology. We have a new dyno that will be commissioned shortly, which is multifunctional and can test the gearbox with the engine, the engine on its own, the ERS on its own and the engine with the rear end of the car.
“We have to keep the future in mind in anticipation of 2021 and looking after our preparation for that.” Aside the machine, Taffin laid more attention to human side as he insisted that the ‘fight back’ feeling is paramount and there is ‘no fear’ to get the job done.
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2019 F1 launches so far: