On July 16, 1977, Renault entered its very first Formula 1 grand prix to embark upon a new chapter in its long and illustrious history – one that dates back to the very infancy of motorsport. Over the ensuing decades, Renault competed successfully in all forms of the sport, from circuit racing, to conventional and cross-country rallying, record-breaking attempts and endurance racing. It was therefore perhaps inevitable that its various motor racing exploits would ultimately lead Renault to F1, the absolute pinnacle of the sport.
In the four decades that have elapsed since 1977, Renault’s ambitious and enduring commitment to the sport has been characterised by an intelligent, pioneering approach and technological prowess. Not only has the manufacturer notched up a long list of victories, but its enviable record has been achieved by dint of ongoing innovation in the areas of aerodynamics, chassis and engines. Renault is today a key player in the fast-paced world of grand prix racing, widely respected by all its rivals up and down the pit-lane.
Here is a comprehensive history of Renault in Formula 1.
The six landmark dates that preceded Renault’s F1 debut
- July 23, 1975: The first 1.5-litre turbocharged V6 engine, dubbed 32T (bore x stroke: 80mm x 49.4mm), ran on the test bed at Viry-Châtillon.
- August 8, 1975: The second 1.5-litre turbocharged V6, called 33T (bore x stroke: 86mm x 42.8mm), ran on the test bed at Viry-Châtillon.
- November 21, 1975: The 33T took to the track for the first time, discretely concealed beneath the bonnet of an Alpine-Renault A441 sport-prototype.
- December 19, 1975: The 32T similarly took to the track for the first time ‘incognito’, powering the same chassis.
- January 3, 1977: Work began on the construction of the RS01 chassis.
- May 10, 1977: The RS01 was officially unveiled at Pub Renault (now known as the Atelier Renault) on the Champs Elysées in Paris.