Renault launch their RS17 and target fifth place

The Renault Formula One team unveiled their new-look 2017 car on Tuesday with a target of the top five in the championship, and possible podium finishes, after struggling among the back-markers last season.

The former world champions returned as full constructors in 2016, after taking over the failing Lotus team, and finished ninth out of 11 with drivers Kevin Magnussen of Denmark and Briton Jolyon Palmer.

Magnussen has since left for U.S-owned rivals Haas F1 and been replaced by experienced German Nico Hulkenberg from Force India.

Russian Sergey Sirotkin retains the role of development driver in a season that sees big changes in the regulations with bigger tyres, faster cornering speeds and cars that will be harder to handle.

Also announced at the London event was the appointment of four-time F1 world champion Alain Prost as a special advisor to the team.

The team, whose engine plant is in France and main factory in England, have invested heavily in adding headcount and infrastructure over the past year with the aim of returning to the top by 2020.

“We expect to be fifth in the championship,” Renault Sport Racing President Jerome Stoll told the audience in a central London hall before the black-and-yellow RS17 car was presented to pounding music and strobe lights. We are hungry for the podium, hungry for success.”

Renault Sport F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul, who has effectively been running the team since the abrupt departure of principal Frederic Vasseur in January, said the key word for the year ahead was ‘integration’.

But he was also looking for a significant step up, with Renault hoping to see the rewards of a more integrated operation and improved performance from a power unit that is also used by Red Bull.

“If this (fifth place) is the target it means it’s achievable,” he told Reuters. “Some people will say it’s not ambitious enough, some people will say that it’s not realistic. We try to target in the middle.

“The target is by 2020 to be able to fight for the championship.”

Last year’s car was effectively a hybrid, designed by cash-strapped Lotus with a Mercedes engine in mind and ultimately racing with a Renault unit in the back at short notice.

“Last year was a sort of marketing return in that we took a car that was already existing, we painted it yellow and called it Renault. We put a Renault engine in it and that was it, job done. Not very satisfying,” said Abiteboul. “We completely recognise this car as our first all-Renault product (since the return).”

The F1 season starts in Australia on 26 March.

Press Release:

Renault Sport Formula One Team today launched its 2017 challenger, the R.S.17, at a showcase event in front of international media and team partners, in London, England.

Highlighting new partners and sponsors including BP, Castrol and MAPFRE, the launch was also the first public revealing of the new Renault Sport brand identity, designed to provide a stronger link between Renault Sport Racing and Renault Sport Cars.

Powered by Renault Sport Racing’s R.E.17 power unit, the R.S.17 has no carry over parts from the R.S.16. The team has worked from a clean sheet of paper to respond to Formula 1’s latest regulations. It is the first Formula 1 car designed from the outset by Renault Sport Racing from its two locations in Enstone, England and Viry-Châtillon, France.

Present at the launch were Thierry Koskas, Groupe Renault Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Jérôme Stoll, President and Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director of Renault Sport Racing, as well as Renault Sport Formula One Team’s senior management and drivers, and Alain Prost as Renault Sport Racing Special Advisor.

The R.S.17 was unveiled by race drivers Nico Hülkenberg and Jolyon Palmer, whilst Third and Reserve Driver Sergey Sirotkin was also announced today.

The car was unveiled with the hashtag #RS17Launch.

The 2017 Renault Sport Academy line-up was also confirmed, with Jack Aitken, Max Fewtrell, Jarno Opmeer and Sun Yue Yang all being supported by Renault Sport Racing through their 2017 seasons. Jack will contest the GP3 Series, whilst Max, Jarno and Sun will contest the Formula Renault Eurocup in an historic-high 30-cars-grid.

Jérôme Stoll, President of Renault Sport Racing: The R.S.17 is the first car which Enstone and Viry have been able to plan and develop from the outset and we’re satisfied by the fruits of this interaction. It’s a beautiful car. As well as the excitement of the R.S.17 itself, we also have a highly important new partner in BP through their BP and Castrol brands. For 2017 our performance targets are clear. We want to take a definite, tangible step forward in performance and results. Fifth position in the Constructors’ Championship is our goal.”

Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport Racing Managing Director: “For 2017 we are perfectly placed to take the step forward we all desire. The R.S.17 is the result of many long working hours spent over our two integrated locations and the result is a car we can be proud of. We have a strong line-up of personnel at all levels of the team and we’re proud to see Nico and Sergey join Jolyon in 2017. We are joined by a strong group of partners with BP, Castrol, MAPFRE and SMP Racing representing the best pre-season sponsorship acquisition campaign in the paddock. We are the fastest growing F1 team and we now need to prove our performance on track. Our objective is to score points at every round.”