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January 31st, 2011
Renault believes a long development time for its new car, allied to some radical concepts under the skin, are key factors in boosting its hopes of a return to winning ways in 2011.
The Enstone-based team unveiled its bold new R31 at Valencia on Monday. It immediately sparked intrigue about secret innovations, especially revolving around a potential radical sitting of the exhaust exits.
There are suggestions the exhausts could even be coming out towards the front edge of the sidepods – to help blow air through a longer area of the underfloor – although the team has been careful to keep the concept under close wraps for now.
Renault has drawn short of confirming what radical ideas may or may not be on its car, but technical director James Allison did say clearly on Tuesday that one of the chief targets was to “further develop the concept of using the exhausts to blow the floor.”
Beyond the innovative concepts, team owner Gerard Lopez has revealed that the team has been working on the R31 for almost 12 months ago.
“What most people did not know, and we can say it now, is that we had an overly aggressive development programme because we started development of the R31 in February last year,” explained Lopez at the launch of the team’s new car.
“People were working unbelievable hours at the factory. The basis of this year’s car we believe is much faster than last year, as a benchmark.
“If we can keep up with the same development rate as last year then we can move up a nut. And, if last year we did a couple of podiums, in theory this year we should be able to fight for some wins.”
Lopez says that there is very little carry over between last year’s R30 and the new challenger, which will be tested for the first time by Vitaly Petrov at Valencia on Tuesday.
“What is really interesting with this car is that because it traces back to such an, in F1 terms, eternity, it literally has nothing to do with last year’s car,” he said. “They were two completely different development programmes, and this car, outside of the engine; it is 92 per cent of different parts. It is literally a completely different car.”