British Grand Prix build-up: Renault Sport’s past power and glory at Silverstone

A headline-grabbing debut plus two famous victories: Silverstone’s up-coming British Grand Prix (Sun 10 July) will always be synonymous with Renault’s Formula 1 history. Time to pick out some memorable moments from the past…
  • F1 - British GP memories (2).JPG
  • F1 - British GP memories (1).jpg

Before we begin it’s worth pointing out that the British GP is of course very much a home event for Renault Sport Formula One Team with most of the squad’s operations (chassis, aerodynamics etc) based just half an hour down the road at Enstone, Oxon.

The British race follows a week after the Austrian GP (this coming Sunday 3 July). Predicting how drivers Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer will fair in their R.S.16s is impossible but here are four flashes of inspiration we hope might just help…

This is the race where it all began. Renault entered F1 for the first time with its own team and – typical of the company’s pioneering approach – with a new-fangled thing called turbocharging. Some were admiring of Renault’s daring; others just laughed particularly when the car, RS01 driven by Jean-Pierre Jabouille, suffered a smoky retirement (giving birth to the nickname ‘Yellow Teapot’ in those early days).

The one that got away… Four years on from its debut Renault’s turbocharging technology had already begun to reap rewards with race wins. At Silverstone drivers Rene Arnoux and Alain Prost qualified their cars, the RE30s fitted with Renault-Gordini EF1 1.5 V6t engines, first and second on the starting grid almost a second clear of the rest. They ran 1-2 in the race, too, but what could have been a dream result turned sour. Prost retired early on leaving Arnoux well clear in the lead – having been close to half a minute in front, however, his car also cruelly faulted less than 10 laps from the finish and it was all over.

A turbocharged engine was now the thing to have for any top F1 team and Renault’s RE40 model – still with the Gordini EF1 1.5 V6t motor – was among the finest cars on the grid. Alain Prost, already with wins in France and Belgium, added victory number three of the season at Silverstone and by some margin. He’d add a fourth win a month later in Austria, too…

Having withdrawn its team from F1 in 1985, Renault returned in 2002. In 2005 it had won the title with Spain’s Fernando Alonso but although he’d qualified on pole position in Britain that season the win eluded him (he finished second). In 2006, however, he put that right. On pole again in his Renault RS26 2.4 V8 he led every lap bar one (when he made his pit stop for new tyres) to win by a quarter of a minute…

In addition to the above Renault engines have won the British GP a further ten times: 1991-1997 (ever year); 2009; 2010, 2012.