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  Article Image gallery (43) RS 01/04 Specifications  
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Country of origin:France
Produced from:1977 - 1979
Numbers built:4
Designed by:André de Cortanze
Successor:Renault RS 10
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:December 04, 2015
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Click here to download printer friendly versionThrough the manufacturer's association with Alpine and Gordini, Renault embarked on an ambitious competition program in the 1970s. By 1976, the 'Regie' was going head-to-head with Porsche at Le Mans and at the same time development of a Formula 1 machine was started. The Renault-Alpine F1 project was far from conventional and would result in the first ever turbo-charged Grand Prix car.

Since the introduction of the '3-litre regulations' in 1967 there had also been a provision for 1.5 litre forced-induction but no other team or manufacturer had explored this option. In fact the once dominant, crank-shaft driven supercharger had only been successfully used in the first two seasons of Formula 1. In the late 1960s the exhaust gas propelled turbines gradually came to the fore in American single seater and later sports car racing. In their battle for victory at Le Mans, both Porsche and Renault used turbo-charged machines from 1976 onwards.

Developed by Bernard Dudot, Renault's first Formula 1 engine shared its basic design with the Gordini V6 that in naturally aspirated form had seen use in F2 and was subsequently adapted to sports car use. With twin overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and an aluminium-alloy construction it was conventional in its basic layout. The 'EF 1' (in reference to main backer Elf) stood out because of the single Garrett turbo-charger fitted. In its original guise, the V6 produced around 500 bhp, which was about the same as the naturally aspirated V8s and V12s with twice the displacement.

French aerodynamicist Dr. Max Sardou suggested the use of 'ground effect' venturis for the 'RS 01', which would have meant another first, but it was decided that the unorthodox engine's development would be best served by a conventional chassis design. Accordingly the André de Cortanze penned F1 car was constructed around an aluminium monocoque that used the engine and Hewland gearbox as stressed members. The rolling chassis was tightly wrapped in a fibreglass body that sported side-pod mounted radiators and a single oil-cooler in the nose. The revolutionary engine was partly exposed.

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  Article Image gallery (43) RS 01/04 Specifications