Renault are refusing to hold back on the development of the R28 this year and are intent on chasing Formula One’s ‘big three’ deep into the season, despite their so far disappointing points tally.
The RÃ©gie have had a lack-lustre year to date collecting fewer points than at this point last year; 2007 itself by no means a cause for celebration given the standards laid down by the French team during their championship winning years.
Moments of brilliance from Fernando Alonso including a front-row starting position in Barcelona and a superb fourth place grid slot Canada have done little to compensate for the team’s disappointing mid-field pace. And Alonso’s fourth place in Melbourne stands as the team’s best finish so far.
Despite significant changes in the regulations for 2009, which have encouraged other underperforming teams to divert resources to next year’s car, Renault are intent on persevering with the development of the R28 long into the season.
“We’ve got quite a comprehensive package of bits for Magny-Cours,” Renault’s Technical Director Bob Bell explained on the team’s official podcast. “We plan to keep developing the R28 as deep into the season as we can.”
“With three teams now at the top of the championship all fighting for the championship win, they’re going to have to develop those cars later into the season than perhaps they would ideally like particularly given the monumental changes in regulations for next year.”
“We have to stay in touch with them and that will naturally drag us along in terms of maintaining the development pace.”
Bell admits that it is essential for Renault to lift themselves out of the mid-field and overtake the likes of Williams and Red Bull Racing in the constructors’ championship. Although the R28 has the underlying pace to do so, the results have yet to live up to the potential, he argues.
“We’ve got to move ourselves ahead of the mid-field bunch that we believe we’ve got the performance in the car to do,” asserted the Englishman. “We just need to demonstrate it with some points.”
The technical regulation changes for 2009 including aerodynamic changes, the expected introduction of slick tyres, and the use regenerative braking are wide-ranging and have been designed to reduce costs and promote closer racing.
Honda and Force India have both admitted to throwing the bulk of their resources behind next year’s car, while Williams have admitted that they have not been able to develop their current challenger, the FW30 as aggressively as they normally would because of their focus on the FW31.
2009 Regulation Changes in Detail
Aerodynamic and bodywork regulation regulation changes include a widening of the front wing and a reduction in the rear wing to avoid the loss of downforce when following behind cars, and in turn promote more overtaking.
Deflectors, winglets, flip ups and chimney’s will all be banned which will reduce the overall downforce levels significantly, but the introduction of slick tyres will increase mechanical grip.
Alongside changes to the bodywork, 2009 will also see the introduction of a “Kinetic Energy Recovery System”, or KERS, a regenerative brake device designed to recover some of the vehicle’s kinetic energy normally lost as heat under braking.