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October 12th, 2011
Renault Sport managing director Jean-Francois Caubet says the soul searching his organisation had to go through when its works team was embroiled in the ‘race-fixing’ crisis was a key factor in its return to title success as an engine supplier with Red Bull.
Although the old Renault works team still bears its name, the car company is now in Formula 1 purely as an engine supplier to its erstwhile in-house squad, champion team Red Bull and Lotus – with Williams also returning to Renault power from 2012.
Renault gradually changed its role after considering pulling out of the sport when the scandal over the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix broke two years ago. After seeing its partner team Red Bull clinch a second title for Sebastian Vettel at Suzuka last weekend, Caubet said Renault’s results with RBR vindicated its response to the crisis of 2009.
“I think it is a fantastic result because three years ago we were nowhere, and we decided to continue on the engine side, we fought internally to obtain the budget and secure the organisation, and we started to push hard,” he said. “Last year was a good championship but this year was the best one.”
Caubet said the results with Red Bull proved that Renault had made the correct decision when reassessing its place in F1.
“I think all the employees, the board, they were convinced that F1 is a key value in Renault,” he said.
“It is a key value but the problem is to find a good strategy with the key value. When you are a carmarker it is not easy to find a good strategy because sometimes you can push too hard, be too ambitious and after the first crisis, everything collapses.
“So I think the decision to be an engine provider, to choose the best one with Red Bull, to push in terms of technology and partnership and to push in spirit… we are not a team, but we are big enough.”
Red Bull and Renault have started on pole position at every grand prix this year and won nine races with Vettel.
But Caubet does not think his engine is the most powerful in the field, more that it provides the best package for its teams.
“I think we are not the most powerful,” he said. “I think Mercedes has the most, between 20-22bhp more, but on the fuel consumption, on the driveability, on the torque, on the services also because you need to provide a fantastic service, and I think Renault is the best.
“I think it is a term of philosophy, more than budget, power or tactics.”