Renault hopes the R.S.19 is the car to do that. The team made a huge statement during last year’s driver market by securing the signature of Ricciardo from Red Bull. The Australian, who has won seven F1 races since 2014, is considered one of the best talents on the grid and alongside Hulkenberg completes one of the most exciting driver line-ups going into the new season.
Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo stand either side of four-time world champion and Renault special adviser Alain Prost. Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images
The French manufacturer has made no secret of the fact it is facing a long-term project back to the front of the grid — it has targeted wins in 2020 and 2021, meaning a clear step forward this year will be vitally important.
The most visible changes to the car shown in the rendered images from last year’s are those mandated by 2019’s new technical regulations, including a wider, simplified front wing, smaller barge boards and a higher, wider rear wing. At the team’s launch event at its Enstone base on Tuesday, it displayed a car with the 2019 livery and front wing.
1977 to 2019. Every line. Every curve. Using the most advanced technology available, and improving year on year. Breaking new grounds. All leading to today.
Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul believes the team’s commitments to returning to the front of the grid is clear in the changes it has been making to every level of its operation.
“When you walk around Enstone you feel the passion and dedication to racing,” he said. “The first phase of the plan was regeneration — you will see pretty much every single area of the factory has been improved if not completely transformed, from windtunnel instrumentation, manufacturing, milling machines, clean room, race bays, every single area improved in order to compete on the same level as the best.”
Engine chief Remi Taffin is confident Renault can start cutting the performance gap this year.
“These regulations are extremely complex. We know them and understand them and had time to put in place a structure,” he said. “We have the structure and we have the people now. Eventually we can see the result of it.
“We have worked hard on the ERS [energy recovery system] and worked a lot on the ICE [internal combustion engine]. “In 2018 we have been introducing some new concepts that proved to be successful and we have taken some of them further down the road and into 2019.
“The result is the best winter we have ever had.”
Source: ESPN Image: Crash