The 2006 Renault R26
It is said, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.' Tweaking, however, is another matter altogether. Coming into the 2006 season, Renault already had the chassis. The team also had the jockey capable of riding the wild pony to victory. So, it wasn't that all surprising when Renault unveiled its 2006 challenger, the R26, it didn't bear too much of a difference to its championship winning predecessor, the 2005 R25. However, before the end was up Renault would constantly have to fiddle with its design to make sure their drivers had a competitive car race after race. After all, McLaren-Mercedes showed greater pace toward the end of 2005 than Renault, then also there was that man named Schumacher everybody expected to re-emerge from obscurity.
Once again, the R26 sported the blue and yellow livery that had become synonymous with Renault, and as with 2005, would be piloted by then reigning world champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso with the second car driven by the Italian Giancarlo Fisichella.. The R26 revealed, however, a tighter package, a much more streamlined chassis to help with the ever troublesome details of controlling airflow and adding downforce but without increasing drag. While styling remained very much similar, the constant tweaking, even of a successful product, was evident.
The nose, at the time of the launch was more-narrow than that of its predecessor. The front wing was also more dramatic, with its deep scoop and contoured leading edges. The nose also included the half upper-cascading wing Renault introduced late in the 2005 season. The radiator sidepods were similar in appearance to the R25 but much more shapely and tighter from down by the splitter under the driver's legs all the way back to the rear diffuser. The chimneys and T-wing on the sidepods were also slightly altered. The engine cowling itself had a more-gentle, rather constant slope given the redesign of the airbox. Although a minor detail, it is also interesting the mid-span wing attached to the trailing edge of the engine cowling was not included in the design of the R26. However, the rear wing sported much more contoured leading edges and wing shapes.
All-in-all, Renault new they already had a winning product on their hands given the fact the R26 was merely an improvement on the successful R25. However, Formula One constantly changes. A technological edge can take a decent team and make them a force to be reckoned with. This was the concern for Renault. Had the other teams possibly passed them up? The R26 was to be Renault's answer to what the other teams brought to bear against them.
Right away things changed but did so with a good result. At the season's first race in Bahrain, Renault showed up with an already redesigned front nose. The narrow design was abandoned in favor of a more wide profile, much like that of McLaren-Mercedes' 2005 entries. It was pretty obvious however, the design paid dividends. In the R26's first race it scored a victory as Fernando Alonso piloted the car to a finish a little over a second ahead of Schumacher in second.
Things were looking good right from the start as the R26 chassis would go on to take top honors at each of the first three races of the 2006 season. Giancarlo Fisichella finished first at the Malaysian grand prix sandwiched between Alonso victories at Bahrain and Australia. While the next two races at San Marino and the Nurburing would be won by Michael Schumacher and his Ferrari, Alonso kept the R26 right there coming in close behind in the second.
Up through this part of the season most of the changes taking place on the R26 were either for cooling purposes or for slight airflow refinement; nothing too radical. In Malaysia, where the heat and humidity kills F1 engines, a couple of cooling gills were added. Then for the European Grand Prix at the Nurburing, the end plate of the nose wing was refined. But that was pretty much all Renault had done to the car with the exception of the changes between the launch and the first race.
Fernando would take Renault back to the top step of the podium for the next four races. In fact, through the first nine races Fernando never finished worse than second. In Britain, Renault unveiled its controversial damper system. This system, located in the nose of the car, counteracted the imbalance in the nose especially when under heavy braking. This would help maintain a consistent airflow whether under braking or acceleration.
The revisions continued into the next race in Canada. According to engineers, some 16 revisions were made to the car for the race. Some of the more visible ones included 'ears' located on the nose of the car, a redesigned rear wing, and also, sidepod shields, like BAR Honda debuted in 2005. With the win in Canada, the fourth in a row, the Renault R26 had proven itself to be a dominate force, but that reputation would be challenged for the remaining part of the season.
The best result Renault could post at the next race in Indianapolis was a third. Ferrari dominated the race from the beginning and would be a sign of how hard Renault would have to fight throughout the rest of the season. Alonso would get the R26 up to second for the French Grand Prix but Renault could not do any better than fifth and sixth for the next race in Germany.
In Germany the R26 sported a new front wing; the now familiar full-upper profile wing with a sweeping curve and attached right to the nose. This helped to provide greater amounts of downforce without added too much drag. Germany was also the sight of Renault's mass dampening system coming under huge amounts of fire. The German stewards approved the system but the FIA appealed the ruling, hence Renault dropped it from their cars. This seemed to have an impact given the fact that for the next five races the best a R26 could do was second, twice.
During this spell of bad luck the R26 went through a slew of aero revisions and updates. Some of the changes included another set of 'ears' near the cockpit of the car, resizing of the sidepod shields, and a reshaping of the upper-profile of the front wing for the race in China. This seemed to further help Renault get back on track and on top. In fact, at the very next race, round seventeen of eighteen, Fernando Alonso powered the R26 back to the top spot of the podium. More importantly, this victory gave Alonso a ten point advantage over his rival Michael Schumacher in the race for the World Drivers Championship. The result also helped Renault push a nine point advantage over Ferrari for the Constructor's Championship.
With Michael's relatively poor starting spot going into the final race in Brazil, Fernando drove a good but conservative race to finish second, but more importantly, to win the driver's title. Renault, as a team, would also go on to win the constructors championship with the R26 design.
Like any initial design in Formula One these days the R26 went through many minor and major adjustments to keep pace with the competition. By the end of the season it was highly regarded Ferrari and McLaren had narrowed any gap Renault may have had after the 2005 season. Toward the end of the season Ferrari dominated races. And while proving to be too fragile to win a race, the McLaren-Mercedes chassis showed a fast pace and very good agility. When the cars are rather equal, in the end any worthwhile success rests squarely on the ability of the driver. Fernando Alonso was able to make up for any shortcomings the R26 had toward the end of the season and was strong enough to provide himself and Renault with back-to-back championships.
In its time in Formula One history the R26 achieved the driver and constructors championships. The R26 also achieved eight race wins, seven poles, and twenty-five top five performances. Like with any championship contender, failures to finish must be kept to a minimum, and Renault and the drivers were able to do just that. As a team, throughout the entire season, Renault only suffered four failures to finish. This proves a testament to the work of the team, the effort put into the design and its performance, and it is a testament to the team's drivers. The whole package certainly worked in 2005 and Renault took and built upon what worked, tweaked it, and made it happen again.By Jeremy McMullen
Renault F1 Team Targets Aggressive Defense of World Titles in 2006
In front of world-wide media and VIP guests in Monte-Carlo, the world champion Renault F1 Team officially launched its 2006 championship campaign with a clear objective: defending the world championship with an aggressive approach to the 2006 season.
'In terms of performance objectives, there can be only one: to be fighting for the world championship in the final races,' explained Renault F1 Team President Patrick Faure. 'We enter the year with an unchanged line-up in our management, our drivers and our technical team. Everybody at Viry and Enstone has been working to prepare a technical package capable of keeping us at the top. Complacency has no place at Renault. We are focused on repeating our successes.'New Regulations
For 2006, the Renault F1 Team has adapted to significant changes in the technical regulations governing Formula 1. Teams must now run with 2.4L V8 engines (instead of the 3L V10 used in 2005) which have been introduced in order to cap performance, with an initial reduction in power of approximately 20%. These regulations have been framed in order to reduce the potential for development in the medium and long term, thus cutting costs. The change has necessitated the design and development of a brand new engine, the RS26, by the team at Viry-Chatillon. This project has been led since its inception in September 2004 by Leon Taillieu, under the leadership of Engine Technical Director Rob White.New V8 Engine: Renault RS26
Renault R26 Chassis
'The RS26 is a brand new engine, which has been designed to exploit the new regulations to the maximum,' explains Rob White. 'The regulations now impose many parameters of engine design, such as a minimum weight limit, a fixed architecture and even the centre of gravity. We have taken a pragmatic approach with the aim of producing a winning engine. The dialogue with our colleagues on the chassis team has been open and extensive, to produce the best possible overall package. We have approached the V8 project with relish, and high ambitions.'
The package that has been developed around this new V8 powerplant, is the R26 chassis. The work of a team led by Chief Designer Tim Densham, and guided by Chassis Technical Director Bob Bell, the car represents an aggressive evolution of the championship-winning design philosophy from 2005. Although the aerodynamic regulations have remained stable, the team has designed a brand new package to further optimize chassis performance.Driver Line-up
The race driver line-up for the Renault F1 Team continues unchanged in 2006. The pairing of Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella is among the most complete on the grid, and in the coming season, they will be supported by Finn Heikki Kovalainen as test and third driver, after he finished runner-up in the inaugural GP2 series championship in 2005.
World Champion Fernando Alonso will enter the season as the man to beat in Formula 1. After being crowned the sport's youngest champion in 2005, he will hope to defend his world title with the same blend of aggression and precision that defined his driving last year. Although this will be his final season with the Renault F1 Team, the Spaniard enters the new season fully focused on the challenge ahead.
For team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella, 2006 will be a year of confirmation. After finishing fifth in last year's world championship, and playing a key role in Renault's conquest of the constructors' title, the Italian is aiming to establish himself at the front of the field this year, and to fight for the world title.Source - Renault
After a perfect performance in today's Brazilian Grand Prix, Renault has won the 2006 FIA Formula 1 Constructors' World Championship and Fernando Alonso is the new 2006 FIA Formula 1 Drivers' World Champion. The Renault F1 Team has repeated its 2005 double after a highly spectacular season, during which the team again proved its sporting, technical and human qualities by producing the R26 single-seater that has been consistently fast and reliable.
Carlos Ghosn declared: 'Renault's success in winning both championship titles for the second year in a row represents a huge achievement. This is the victory of the Renault brand; a brand that is enthusiastic, innovative and capable of commanding latestgeneration technologies. And Renault triumphed with only the fifth-largest budget on the starting grid. Quite an achievement!'An exciting, roller-coaster season, from Bahrain all the way to Brazil
Fernando Alonso made a fantastic start to the season, with six victories and three second places. By June, he held a strong lead in the championship, with a points total of 84 out of a possible 90.
At Hockenheim, the Ferraris finished first and second. In Turkey, a titanic struggle between Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher saw the Spaniard finish second, behind a Schumacher who was more determined than ever. Spectators the world over were thrilled by the battle between Alonso and Schumacher for the title, while their team mates, Fisichella and Massa, fought it out for third and fourth places.
The Renault-Michelin combination was again dominant in China, but Alonso had to settle for second placed, behind Schumacher. After the Chinese round, the two title challengers had exactly the same number of points and Renault regained the lead of the Constructors championship. The Japanese Grand Prix saw a reversal of Ferrari's fortunes and both the Renault F1 Team drivers finished in the top three for the fourth time this season.
At the end of a Brazilian Grand Prix that matched the rest of the season for excitement, the second and sixth placed finishes of the two Renault drivers were enough to win both titles for the brand.Perfect chemistry for an exceptional performance
This double title is the fruit of the efforts made by the international teams working in Viry- Châtillon, France, who design the RS26 engine, and in Enstone, ÚK, who are in charge of the R26 chassis, both under the chairmanship of Alain Dassas and the management of Flavio Briatore. The outstanding performance and reliability of the Renault R26 are founded on the talent of the team's two drivers and the skills of the entire engineering staff. This year's title has gone to the best chassis-engine combination.
The team's technical and human achievements are also the fruit of strict and thorough economic management. The Renault F1 Team has carried off both titles with just the fifth largest budget in Formula 1.Quality and reliability: two key concepts in F1 and series produced vehicles
Renault's double title underscores the brand's technological and engineering excellence and its outstanding reliability, which is supremely important in F1. Winning both titles in two consecutive seasons is a clear demonstration of the robust design, production and development processes applied to the engine-chassis combination.
The same high demands for reliability and quality are shared by the Formula 1 single-seaters and Renault's series produced vehicles. As part of Renault Commitment 2009, the brand has committed to placing Laguna in the top three vehicles in its segment in terms of quality: a goal that the Renault F1 Team shares by aiming for a podium finish in every race. While the circumstances may be different, it is the same approach and the same quest for perfection that drive all of the teams working at Renault.
For Renault, Formula 1 is a unique testing ground for technical and organizational solutions, such as 3D prototyping technology, software and hardware or the organization of project teams. These solutions are then rolled out in the engineering organizations. Inversely, some fifteen experts in aerodynamics, engineering and information technology from Renault's Technocentre joined the F1 team in 2002. Their experience in a working environment where development cycles are extremely short – one year – has been an opportunity to learn how development lead-times can be shortened in the automotive industry.
Another example in the current range is the venturi on Clio Renault Sport, which was directly derived from a system used in Formula 1.Victory in Formula 1: a driving force for the entire Renault Group
By triumphing on all five continents, the Renault F1 Team acts as Renault's international flagship, especially in countries where the group's reputation is gaining strength. The F1 Team presents the public with an image of quality, enthusiasm and success that paves the way for the introduction of the brand's vehicles on international markets. Customer surveys have shown that success in Formula 1 has contributed to improving the image of the Renault brand. 63% of the general public believes that Renault's world titles are a sign of the brand's reliability, quality and its technological edge.
This series of victories has stirred unprecedented interest amongst Renault's employees, who are proud to work for a double world champion. Yet again, Renault has risen to the toughest of challenges with passion and enthusiasm.Source - Renault