2010 F1 season preview: Renault

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Renault have gone back to their classic yellow-black colour scheme

It’s a new era for Renault with a new owner, new team principal and the Alonso-Briatore-Symonds partnership consigned to the history books.

The team began the last two seasons poorly. Can they get off to a better start in 2010?

Car design

Renault failed to master the new regulations last year but their problems run deeper than that – the team has never really been on the pace since tyre supplier Michelin left the sport at the end of 2006.

By the end of testing the R30 had sprouted a new, more detailed front wing and a distinctively shaped rear wing profile. But the team usually looked at least a second off the pace.

Interestingly, it’s one of the shortest cars on the grid, suggesting Renault have made a good job of packaging the rear of the car.

This may be because of their engine’s reputed fuel efficiency, which could stand them in good stead in this new, refuelling-free era.

Driver line-up

Yet another team with a new driver pairing. The loss of Fernando Alonso can only be a bad thing but the team swooped quickly to pick up Robert Kubica as a replacement.

Kubica is obviously very quick but also a bit temperamental. When the chips were down at BMW it was Nick Heidfeld who could be relied on to grind out solid midfield results. But when Kubica hits a set-up sweet spot he can be shatteringly fast.

Don’t write off Vitaly Petrov as a pay driver too hastily – even if he does bring cash plus the interest of a country Bernie Ecclestone would dearly love to turn into a market for F1.

Petrov was a convincing runner-up in GP2 last year and turned the tables on team mate Romain Grosjean before the latter moved up to F1. Along with Nico Hulkenberg, he’s one of few rookies to get a decent amount of running in pre-season testing, though the team generally preferred to put Kubica in the car on dry days.


The team made cuts in its aerodynamic department before 2009 but after their problems last year some of the staff have been re-hired.

They should also benefit from not having to co-develop their KERS, which proved of little benefit to them last year.


Pat Symonds’ technical direction will be sorely missed. New team principal Eric Boullier has a lot to get to grips with.

Poll: championship position

Renault finished eighth in the championship last year. That’s the worst they’ve done as Renault since 1978, when they finished 12th with three points. Toleman, which later became the modern Renault team, failed to score in 1985.

How will they do in 2010? Cast your vote below:

Where will Renault finish in the 2010 Constructors' Championship?

  • 13th (1%)
  • 12th (0%)
  • 11th (0%)
  • 10th (2%)
  • 9th (5%)
  • 8th (14%)
  • 7th (23%)
  • 6th (21%)
  • 5th (14%)
  • 4th (10%)
  • 3rd (5%)
  • 2nd (2%)
  • 1st (3%)

Total Voters: 1,754

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See all the articles in the F1 Fanatic 2010 Season Preview

2010 F1 season

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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66 comments on “2010 F1 season preview: Renault”

  1. I can’t see them finishing higher than 7th. Why is 13th in the poll now that there are only 12 teams?

    1. Aleksandar Serbia
      6th March 2010, 14:49

      Keith is sympathetic , he has hopes of Stefan getting the go in Bahrain, even tho its over ;)

      1. Still if Renault managers 13th out of 12, do you think we could get the 16 who guessed it correctly a prize? perhaps a sticker? or 2!

  2. Probably they will battle for 5-6 place. Silently – I count on a surprise…

  3. Hoping they do a bit better than the last two years, especially as I quite like their driver line-up.

  4. I picked 8th, these are serious questions:
    Are they really Renault, after the buyouy by that capital company?
    How much control of them do Renault have?
    Will the Renault name remain after next year?

  5. I said 7th but I don’t really know. I’ve always liked Renault but unless Michelin return I just don’t know if they can be that winning side again (they said they want to be back at the top in a couple of years so they’re maybe banking on them returning too).
    Their engine should be good and hopefully they have a nice little package. They’ve got some grit as they survived the scandal and this line up should be ok. Kubica’s fairly fussy and he hasn’t really complained so that must be a good sign for the team.

  6. 4th or 5th. looking forward to see extreme dd from renault.

  7. I say 5th – the later in the season, the better they will be. Renault now has development potential on par with the big four, with yearly budget around 300 million euros and some influential Russian politician behind them (is Putin ringing the bell?). The staff has also been strengthened with Tokunaga, Slade, Nelson etc. Also the driver line-up is quite good, Petrov given some experience can be a solid scorer. Kubica given a good car can be a championship contender. I feel that they can land some podium finishes towards the end, even winning a race or two. 2011 can be their comeback to glory.

    1. Yeah, Kubica can be a WDC contender, but I don’t see Petrov really scoring many points. He doesn’t show much potential to me.

      1. I feel there is more to him than meets the eye. I bet he’s going to outscore the Williams’ Hulk.

        1. In a similar equipment Hulkenberg (a rookie) beat him hands down in GP2 and he had an advantage of 3 years experience in the series. I don’t see it happening especially as it seems Williams built a better car then Renault.

          1. Hulk should have him, the only reason it might not be so is if the Renault teams development far outpaces the Williams teams.

            Petrov isn’t only about money, he did place second in GP2 after all! but it will smear the rest of his career for the worse.

    2. Mouse_Nightshirt
      6th March 2010, 13:07

      A yearly budget of 300m? Would doubt that. And even if it was true, that would be horrible – how on earth are the new teams ever expected to compete?

      1. They’ve had around 215 before uncle Putin came (Boullier stated that Petrov ALONE without backing from the Russian companies and government was to give 15 million euros, which amounted for 7% of their budget). They’re also close to sign couple more sponsors from Poland. All of this is supposed to give them extra 70-80 millions MORE.

        1. In that case surely they should be competing at the front.

  8. A suggestion Keith. May be you should have done these team season previews in the reverse order (Like you do the driver mid-term and end-term in reverse order, starting with 22nd ending with 1st). Starting with Toro Rosso and ending with Mclaren, this way the interest would have increased as the season opener approached.

    As the lower teams have lesser support than front-running teams, the interest in this series of articles will go down.

    I put them as eighth, below Williams Force India and Sauber.

    Kubika is over-rated IMO. This season, he will be found out.

    1. @sumedh…

      With respect to your passion about F1. When you write names…write them in correct way. It is Kubica. For me he is underestimated. His knowledge and car analysis are great deal to engineers of team. Last year he was driving better and faster than other teams in “similar” cars. Can/t forget rookie behaviour of Vettel in Australia and fearless overtaking move (almost half of lap wheel to wheel) with Trulli in one of lasts races.

      Frankly, he has one of the strongest characters of all drivers. He is not a puppet that team can control for publicity. He knows what he wants. That always was a strong side of M.S. A.P and Senna. Charisma and stamina is like fuel for this sport. This is going to be f… great season. Mark my words…and take care my friend.


      1. Finally, someone with a little bit of faith. You actually managed to fire me up, go Kubica!

      2. Sorry for the spelling mistake.

        I guess its a matter of individual opinion.

        Kubica was excellent in 2008 and in a few races of 2009, Australia and Brazil to be specific.

        But he was very easily out-scored by Heidfeld in 2007 and I say this not on the basis of points alone. He was out-qualified and out-raced by Heidfeld.

        In 2009 he may have had some stellar drives, but he also had an inability to extract the best out of a horrible car.

        There is no reason to believe that he will not be disillusioned by the 2010 Renault and lose motivation.

        This is where he differs from Alonso, Hamilton or Schumacher. Even when presented with a terrible car, they put their head down and raced (and defeated their team-mates).

  9. Martin Smile
    6th March 2010, 13:17

    come on guys a little bit faith!! Renault gonna suprise you this year!!!
    cant wait when I’ll see them in Spain 9th of May:)))
    vava voom!!!!!!

  10. I think fifth, if they are not the fastest of the second-tier teams they will surely be the most consistent. Plus their ability to develop a car (as they did to great effect in 2008) will help them towards the end of the year.

    Kubica overrated? I think not, but we will see. And Petrov has a good grounding in GP2, he won’t be as hopeless as many are predicting (hoping?)

    1. I largely agree with your comments, although Kubica still has to prove himself and I think that fifth place for the team is slightly optimistic. Didn’t Renault say this year was going to be a development year i.e. we won’t be ultimately competetive?

  11. Renault and Lada united!!! And Kubica will be destroy Vitaly!

    1. Maybe you should watch wrestling instead.

  12. I do think Kubica is overrated (especially when the cars is not top material) and I’m not sure what to expect from Petrov. I think they are both a bit inconsistent. Usually they both have some nice races and some pretty mediocre ones.

    On the other hand, compared to the other midfield teams, their line-up isn’t so bad.

    I can’t see Renault become succesful in designing a fast car all of a sudden. They probably even have less budget than before.

    It probably will be another difficult season for them.

  13. Aleksandar Serbia
    6th March 2010, 14:43

    Kubica, such a talent, he really doesn’t have the luck like the rest to get a proper car.
    Inconsistency on the part of Kubica is probably due to frustration, so he pushes over the edge!
    He must get his passion in balance, and he will prove his quality, i really like his demeanour, humble but potent!

  14. 6th, I hope Kubica have a good time in this car.Probably this is the last time we may see Renault on grid if they don’t perform well.

  15. Kubica overrated? Try to look beyond the scores and catch the whole view instead of repeating irritating stories about his frustration. Remind yourself what he was doing in the end of 2008 with out-of-pace car. Last season he knew he’s out of chances and had to drive a crappy car but still impressed with his skills. Though with his height and weight he was lost since the beginning during the KERS-mania. Besides, reading F1.com, autosport and ie. this site, I get the impression that there ARE reasons for which Kubica is highly rated. They all are wrong? I like him and wish him all the best. I just hate all those schemes repeated in brainless manner (sorry…). The same manner that forces some journalists to write about Schumi three times more than about all the others together…

    1. “Remind yourself what he was doing in the end of 2008 with out-of-pace car.”

      Yeah I remember what he was doing at the end of 2008. Which is exactly why I say he’s overrated.

      He just wasn’t there with his head and his performance suffered.

      1. bmw stopped development early in 2008, renember? But I agree Kubica is a bit overrated

        1. Yes I remember that too. He just performed very inconsistently at the end of the season.

          For instance in the news you read interview how busy he is with his karting team and then all of a sudden he’s on P11. Or he’s whining about the car on day one and just never gets his head around improving the car, another P11.

          Let me put it another way, Kubica got 18 points ahead of Heidfeld after the first 8 races. At the end of the season he was 15 points ahead of Heidfeld. So those 10 races he performed slightly less than Heidfeld.

          1. Because BMW judged that Heidfeld’s qualifying problems were more important than WDC competition of the other driver.

            ‘He just performed very inconsistently at the end of the season.’ Oh, come on…

          2. Could you please explain me what do you mean by “inconsistently” with regard to the end of 2008 season?
            ->Italian GP – 3rd (heidfeld 5th)
            ->Singapore GP – 11th (heidfeld 6th) yeah, that is your type to support your theory – nevertheless bear in mind the fact that he was racing along with rosberg when piquet crashed. had the team pitted him, just like williams did with rosberg, he would have been way in front of heidfeld – but is it kubica to put the blame on?
            ->Japanese GR – 2nd (heidfeld 9th)
            ->Chinese GP – 6th (heidfeld 5th) – this race is the best example of the meaning of teamwork within BMW Sauber (raikkonen was 3rd in overall clasification, having won with kubica with just one point)
            ->Brazilian GP – 11th (heidfeld 10th) – if you go back with your statements up to 2008 season, then I suppose you remember quite well that kubica was starting from the pits on sunday.

            Where is that inconsistency? please point me it out because I just don’t get it. He did what he could do with the machinery he had. Maybe we should also blame him for the decision of switching team’s focus on 2009 season from 2008 Canadian GP on?

  16. I voted 8th but I hope I’ll be wrong, I don’t want them to become backrunners. But as test has shown they’re not at front. And the car looks to be a 2009 version under this years rules.

    Besides that, they’ll have a Rookie in their team and that can’t be good. Looking at Piquet, Grosjean… they failed to show their talent(s), so I don’t expect much from Petrov. Also because (as the article says) Kubica had many more testing km’s. Only at Catalunya Petrov had some good running, with 142 laps in total (Kubica reached to 160 laps there)

    Saying all this, I still am a bit surprised at Kubica’s 1:19.114 which was .243 of a second slower than Button’s fastest lap at Jerez II. If Renault only did long running at Catalunya (I expect they did), we still don’t know their qualifying performance.

  17. Well I am nationally predisposed to like Kubica and I like Petrov just for expanding the notion of what “Europe” means to Formula 1. Not sure of the engine, not sure of team finances, not sure of ownership stability. If the engine does prove as efficient as some rumours would have it, they may offer steady if not blistering results. In a recent interview Kubica openly admitted that the car’s aero package is its weakest link and would have to be the focus of sustained work. Voted 7th.

  18. Question. “The team began the last two seasons poorly. Can they get off to a better start in 2010?” Answer. No.

    Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren, Red Bull, Williams (not in that order) will all place higher then Renault. They may not even take 6th if Petrov tanks out, falling behind Toro Rosso.

    1. Jarred Walmsley
      6th March 2010, 20:20

      Don’t forget about Force India, they should be quick this year so I think 8th is a possibility which is what I voted for

  19. First of all I have a feeling they’ll be finishing 6th. I had a presentiment like that in the middle of 2008 season. And I asked Keith: how do you think can they finish 4th? Keith didn’t answer and I know why, anyway, then Alonso scored 2 wins. So now I say 6th. I am a wizard, believe me :)

    And now I’ll try to be serious. Whatever you say about Petrov, he’s a good driver and really a nice guy. I think he deserves a place in F1, anyway, Russia deserves it too. Also it will be interesting to see how rivalry between Kubica and Petrov will influence relations between the Polish and Russian fans. I hope everything will be alright.

    Sorry for my English, I’m hoping you have understood me. The best F1 Blog I ever read :)

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      6th March 2010, 20:41

      I think there will only be rivalry between Petrov and Kubica if they are close together in terms of results. If Kubica is as good as his supporter say he is, I don’t think Petrov will be able to compete. But if Petrov makes Kubica look ordinary then the sparks will fly between them.
      Your English is excellent, Sirko. Where are you from?

      1. I’m from Ukraine. We are bordered by Poland and Russia, so it is the reason why we always follow this “the-first-driver-from” thing with big interest. :)

  20. I want to believe that this year Renault will be a suprise team. We had since that in the end of 2008 Alonso and Renault they start performing good like the old days of 2005 and 2006.I think that if the regulations staying the same in 2009 Alonso could be easily be a world champion again.
    2009 was a disaster year and this gave Alonso the option to leave renault.
    The good after Alonso era is that the team found a competive driver in the name of Robert Kubica.He is a good driver and i wish him all the best.
    Petrov i haven’t see him and i can say anything.
    The testing i cant say who is better because you dont know the fuel that this car having.
    I have to agree that since Michelin left they didnt find a way to be competitive, and they hoping that if next year michelin replace bridgestone that they will have the upper hand.
    I am confidense that they will be in 4th faster team

  21. I just don’t see Renault pulling anything special out the bag this year. They haven’t particularly set the track alight in testing, the car still looks somewhat chunky, and I don’t get the whole ‘were no good without Michelins’ excuse. They’ve had 4 years to sort that out. I don’t see them moving forward. I’ve penciled them in for 8th, slipping behind Williams and Sauber, and maybe even behind Force India and maybe even Toro Rosso, if they have particularly good years.

  22. Renault is a big question mark. In any case taking out of their competition Mercedes, McLaren, Ferrari and RBR, I see williams and maybe Sauber stronger than them and Force India and STR quite strong as well. Tough championship for them.

  23. “I put them as eighth, below Williams Force India and Sauber”

    So did I.

  24. theRoswellite
    6th March 2010, 20:31

    Who knows really…I think the second tier is in..”a world of swirl”(ZZTop).

    In fact I have serious apprehensions about the strength of this years field. I rate Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren as the top group, with M-Benz floating below them and the middle group.

    My concern is that we actually end up with, as in decades past, a small group of front teams and then a…chasm….to the other guys, and not just the new teams.

    If you make a list of teams that may be in danger of either financial or performance meltdown you have the new guys plus…Renault and Sauber. If it works out that way I would hope that arrangements are made for the greater sharing of F1 generated monies. Are you listening Bernie? Doubtful.

  25. I think the Renault colours look great :)

  26. I’m waiting for them to surprise all of us! The “40%-pack” of new parts can be risky, but it can bring a new era to RF1.

    Kubica is one of the fastest and the most regular driver in F1. If he’ll get competetive car… old champions (Hamilton, Button, Alonso, Schumacher) will be in trouble.

  27. Hope they dissapear…

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      7th March 2010, 3:08

      Why, because of Singapore?

      That’s over and done with. The guilty parties – Briatore, Symonds and Piquet – have been driven out of the sport. At least let Renault re-claim their reputation before you kick them to the kerb.

      1. I totally agree with you. The team has been completely renewed and now it opens another page in its history. So I think it’s time to stop talking about Singapore, all these new people have nothing to do with that.

        1. Yeah. Got to let the bad things sink into the swamp where they belong. Briatore, Symonds, Piquet did the whole of F1 a very great deal of harm with Joe Public who do not know much about the sport.

          Renault have had a tough time and they deserve a break or two. Kubica and Petrov might be just the guys to spring a surprise or two late season.

          This season is the hardest to predict in decades. I gave Renault a cagey 6th, but below the top four it’s anybody’s game.

  28. Anything from 5th to 8th, I think. This year will be crucial in Renault breaking back into the big league (or keeping in touch with it prior to a possible return for Michelin) or becoming regular midfielders.

  29. If it rains, watch out for Petrov – he’s been brilliant when the conditions are bad. But otherwise, I think it could be about 18-1 in favor of Kubica in qualifying.

  30. I think they will finish 8th behind Force India,Williams and Sauber. They have not been good in practice sessions and also Petrov will take some time to get up to the speed.

    My English is not so good so hope you all understand this.

    1. Sorry, mate. I didn’t understand a single word you’ve said.

      1. I meant I may have make some grammatical mistake or have made construction error.

        1. Sounds familiar to me :) Those constructions, yeah… it very depends on what your native language is. I mean the language you think in. Anyway, follow the river and you’ll get to the sea! :)

        2. your being ribbed my friend don’t worry about it.

          I think 8th this year, this upgrade will have to be pretty special, but the car just looks so conservative and boring, I mean they had one of the worst cars last year, why oh why, have they not changed it at all.

          If this upgrade works they could strike out for 6th.

          voted 9th. just because I don’t see any of the other established teams breaking off an they seem fairly firmly at the back

    2. You’re English is better than mine JV and I was born at Stonehenge at about the time of the Druids….

  31. As far as the team’s and car’s potential performance – big unknown and all are trying to read the proverbial crystal ball. voted 5th as in my opinion the fuel efficiency and wide window of operation of the car can prove deciding on closing the gap in pace to the top teams
    in terms of driver line up – to those who think Kubica is overrated, just read up not on what journalists write/say, but what other drivers (Alonso, Hamilton) say about him – respect, praise and worry once Kubica has a strong package
    Petrov, just like any other rookie will have a steep learning curve and can be only judged after a few races
    btw, love the classic black and yellow livery

  32. I’d say 8th or 9th. Kubica is a great driver and he can surely teach Petrov well. He was runner up in GP2 last year, it was his third season and he got beaten severely by Hulkenberg, which happens to more people. I don’t know if it’s a wise decision to pick him over Grosjean, who already has experience in the crappy renault. I think the main reason is the money, but still he’s talented. The engine could be a problem, it’s not very reliable. The car didn’t exactly stand out in the testing.. I think Kubica is going to need a year to clean this up, perhaps longer. They will be beaten by the top 4 teams + Williams, Sauber and probably even by Toro Rosso/Force India.

  33. There have been big changes at Renault since this time last year with not only a new driver line-up, but also changes in key management positions and now Renault aren’t even majority shareholdings in the team that bear their name.

    If Renault manage to make steady progress this season I think they will finish 6th and should challenge Williams for 5th place in the Constructors’ championship, however I could just as easily see them continue their form of recent seasons and see them fall further down the order.

    This could be an important season for Kubica. He will be expected to be the team leader and help Renault back to the front, he didn’t seem to fulfil this role when BMW were in trouble last year, but then did the structure at his former team allow him to?

    He is essentially replacing Alonso at Renault, arguably the best driver currently in F1, so that in itself is a big ask, and even Alonso couldn’t manage to lead the team back to the front.

    In F1 it is easy to go from the next big thing and potential future World Champion to nearly man, if Kubica doesn’t impress whilst at Renault the next time a seat at a top team becomes available he may find himself passed up for the next new kid on the block.

  34. I hope Robert can re-install some pride and dare I say motivation to Renault as they really need it. But reports are that he is biding his time to move to another big team as soon as possible but I guess all will soon reveal itself…

  35. This post couldn’t be more correct!!

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