In front of world-wide media and VIP guests in Monte-Carlo, the world champion Renault F1 Team today officially launched its 2006 championship campaign with a clear objective: defending the world championship with an aggressive approach to the 2006 season.
For 2006, the Renault F1 Team has adapted to significant changes in the technical regulations governing Formula 1. Teams must now run with 2.4L V8 engines (instead of the 3L V10 used in 2005) which have been introduced in order to cap performance, with an initial reduction in power of approximately 20%. These regulations have been framed in order to reduce the potential for development in the medium and long term, thus cutting costs. The change has necessitated the design and development of a brand new engine, the RS26, by the team at Viry-Châtillon. This project has been led since its inception in September 2004 by Léon Taillieu, under the leadership of Engine Technical Director Rob White.
The package that has been developed around this new V8 powerplant, is the R26 chassis. The work of a team led by Chief Designer Tim Densham, and guided by Chassis Technical Director Bob Bell, the car represents an aggressive evolution of the championship-winning design philosophy from 2005. Although the aerodynamic regulations have remained stable, the team has designed a brand new package to further optimise chassis performance. The R26 ran for the first time in Jerez, Spain on 10 January, and has since completed over 2700 km in the hands of both race drivers. Initial indications on both performance and reliability have been very encouraging.
The race driver line-up for the Renault F1 Team continues unchanged in 2006. The pairing of Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella is among the most complete on the grid, and in the coming season, they will be supported by Finn Heikki Kovalainen as test and third driver, after he finished runner-up in the inaugural GP2 series championship in 2005. World Champion Fernando Alonso will enter the season as the man to beat in Formula 1. After being crowned the sport's youngest champion in 2005, he will hope to defend his world title with the same blend of aggression and precision that defined his driving last year. Although this will be his final season with the Renault F1 Team, the Spaniard enters the new season fully focused on the challenge ahead.
For team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella, 2006 will be a year of confirmation. After finishing fifth in last year's world championship, and playing a key role in Renault's conquest of the constructors' title, the Italian is aiming to establish himself at the front of the field this year, and to fight for the world title.
The final piece in the jigsaw comes in the form of an unchanged portfolio of investment, from the team's partners and official suppliers. In 2005, the Renault F1 Team provided the best value for money on the Formula 1 grid, achieving a winning return on investment for its partner companies. It is a point that Managing Director Flavio Briatore highlights with pride, as he lays down the gauntlet for 2006.
Company press release, last updated on March 20, 2006