Go back 40 years, to ’79, and finally after two years of trying Renault achieved history by becoming the first manufacturer to win a F1 grand prix using a turbocharged engine.
Of all places it was achieved on home ground in the French GP at the stunning Dijon-Prenois circuit. Fittingly, it was Jean-Pierre Jabouille, the driver who had done all the development work prior to Renault entering F1 mid-1977, who took the win.
As well, the win was Renault’s first victory in F1. It has since gone on to but the most notable thing here was that win with turbocharged power – Renault had pioneered the technology and success at Dijon in July that year was a sign of things to come in the sport…
The race also witnessed one of F1 greatest ever battles: that for second position between Jabouille’s Renault team-mate Rene Arnoux and Ferrari’s Gilles Villeneuve. We will take a more in-depth look-back at both this and the race later in the year…
Meanwhile fast forward a decade to 1989 and there was to be another significant victory – the first for a normally aspirated engine made by Renault.
Renault’s own F1 team had been discontinued at the end of 1985 but now F1 had switched to normally aspirated (non-turbocharged) engines only.
This forced major re-think from manufacturers but Renault spotted an opportunity to return and did so as official engine supplier to the Williams team with its first attempt at a normally-aspirated powerplant – a 3.5-litre V10 motor dubbed the RS1.
This was in contrast to giants Honda’s and Ferrari’s decisions to go the V12 route but there would soon be success.
More than that, it was to prove the beginning of one of F1’s greatest partnerships as Renault-powered Williams would go on to win numerous titles throughout the Nineties.
Look out for more on this in future newsletters…