Williams to return to Renault power in 2012

2012 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Rubens Barrichello, Williams, Valencia, 2011

Williams will re-unite with former engine supplier Renault in 2012.

The team announced the deal to the press just an hour after telling its staff in the team’s factory.

It covers the next two seasons, during which time the V8 engine will be used, and discussions are already underway on 2014 and beyond, when the F1 engine rules will change.

Rubens Barrichello said he hopes to remain with the team next year to drive the new car and engine.

He said: “I was employed by the team to bring them back to the very front. This partnership will make it much easier.”

Barrichello said he had high expectations of Renault’s RS27 V8 engine: “I’ve been following it on the track and it seems very good!”

Patrick Head said that switching to Renault would remove any doubt about the performance of their engine, as they would be using the same unit as world championship leaders Red Bull.

Williams previously used Renault engines between 1989 and 1997, in which time they won five constructors’ titles and their drivers won the championship on four occasions.

Frank Williams said: “We are delighted and excited by our new partnership with Renault. This reunites the F1 team with a leading car manufacturer and complements our new relationship with Jaguar.

“At the same time, we are grateful to Cosworth: they have been a fair and reliable partner both on and off the track for the past two years and we look forward to working with them across our business in the future.

“Our previous relationship with Renault was one of the most successful in Williams’ history but we will not allow ourselves to dwell too much on the past.

“We must look to the future and continue to re-build our on-track reputation, which I am hopeful that today’s announcement will help us to do.”

2011 F1 season

Browse all 2011 F1 season articles

Image © Williams/LAT

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

103 comments on “Williams to return to Renault power in 2012”

    1. Lol, that’s exactly what I thought when I read that headline :)

      1. +1! :P I’m so happy for them!

  1. hope this deal brings old fortunes back…

    1. Its Hammer Time
      5th July 2011, 8:22

      Lets hope so. Viva Williams Renault

  2. He said: “I was employed by the team to bring them back to the very front. This partnership will make it much easier.”

    = Cosworth is bad.

    1. = Rubens is delusional. More than half the grid was a better choice to get the Williams to the very front.

      1. The Last Pope
        4th July 2011, 19:39

        This is just not true. It is well known that barrichello is one of the best drivers at developing and setting up a car. He is very knowlageable, he knows what the car is doing and how it works. This is why he is the perfect team mate for any rookie to learn from.

        1. Poor old Rubens, he has been “following the Renault (engine) on the track” and the Mercedes engine, and the Ferrari engine.

          1. lol poor rubens, I feel bad for him, every year he says is better than ever and everyone, and every year he does worse. Why williams would ever get rid of hulkenburg and hire rubens and a rookie is beyong any rational decisions(excluding money off course, but which will go away because the driver line up sucks from a mile away)

          2. Hulkenburg wasn’t beating Rubens. He does not have Ruben’s experience. Having two rookies is not a good thing.

            Think out a better way to Rubbish a driver.

        2. spot on. Rubes was a perfect grab & still has plenty of talent.

        3. So have him become an F1 coach. There are faster people in the pitlane.

      2. Dear “Todfod”, all of us know that Rubens will end his career on a Williams/Renault car. Just like Ayrton, his great teacher! Let’s stop this meaningless war against Rubinho. At least he’s better than revisited Schumi ;)

        1. tolgakaranlik
          5th July 2011, 7:14

          I agree with your last sentence

  3. I don’t know if it’s just the nostalgia but this has made me feel very happy. Williams have always been my favourite team and this link up just seems… right…

  4. An interesting one. Big case of winners and losers here. Cosworth lose big time. They’ve lost Team Lotus as an engine supplier and next year they’re going to lose the jewel in their crown, Williams. They’ll then be left with Marussia Virgin and HRT. Those names are not going to push the brand forward.

    Williams look set to gain massively from this, in terms of performance and media coverage. The reunion between Williams and Renault will be quite nostalgic for a lot of people. It could propell them forward, certainly from where they currently are at the back end of the midfield.

    Although I would say the people licking their lips and rubbing their hands the most from this are the Renault Motorsport chiefs. They’ll be supplying four teams and shall surely be hauling in some mega bucks. It would seem reverting back to engine suppliers from manufacturers was an inspired move. They get a lot of coverage from Lotus Renault, Team Lotus and Red Bull (via Infiniti) as it is, so the Williams-Renault tie shall on propell them forward in terms of market gain.

    Speaking of which, did the announcement of this deal have a positive impact on Williams market shares today?

    A good news story for the sport and Williams, although there is clearly a lot of work for them.

    1. The Last Pope
      4th July 2011, 19:46

      You forget that the “Renault” team will most probably lose their Renault engines in 2012 and have to use cosworths.

      1. what does this mean? where did you read that?

        1. Its not so farfetched really, firstly as its not a Renault factory team and there’s some questions over the state of the finances for the team, atleast from articles ive read on various sites.

        2. The Last Pope
          5th July 2011, 3:23


          Correctly foresaw Williams Renault return. How does Lotus Lada Renault Cosworth sound? :P

          1. Dear The Last Pope,

            It’s not funny calling them “Lotus Lada Renault”. It never was.



          2. Bad jokes are good jokes
            5th July 2011, 16:47

            Dear Jon,

            Making bad jokes about the name of Team Lada, is always humors.


            The Master of humorous and overly long name jokes.

      2. Prisoner Monkeys
        5th July 2011, 11:27

        You forget that the “Renault” team will most probably lose their Renault engines in 2012 and have to use cosworths.

        Uh … what?

        1. The Last Pope
          5th July 2011, 19:18

          Read it and you will gain knowlage.

    2. From the McLaren cooperation deal Virgin announced, I wouldn’t be supprised if that team changed engines later as well.

      Might be Cossy signalling they are not too keen on getting into the new V6Turbo engines?

      1. From the McLaren cooperation deal Virgin announced, I wouldn’t be supprised if that team changed engines later as well.

        They won’t. Virgin are fully controlled by Marussia – I expect the team will change its constructor name in the future – and Cosworth powers Marussia’s road cars.

    3. I wonder if Bernie guaranteed them a minimum number of teams?

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        5th July 2011, 11:34

        There were a few attempted lawsuits in 2010 – one from Italian touring car team N.Technology and another from Zoran Stefanovic – claiming that they had been told the only way to be accepted to the grid was to nominate to use a Cosworth engine when they felt they had “a real chance” of securing an engine deal with another team, which they claimed was in violation of anti-competition laws. However, the courts rejected both lawsuits. The new entries were accepted under the budget cap rules, so the only way to get accepted was to show that you could run a team for as little as possible. That was the entire point of opening the grid up. The Cosworth engines were deliberately pitched by Cosworth as an entry-level engine package, and were thus so cheap that any team nominated to use another engine would seriously struggle to meet the criteria set forth by the FIA.

  5. The nostalgia element is fantastic. Also, the driveability of the Renault has been lauded many times, and it is something Rubens has complained about a few times since he joined the team. It can only be a step forward, but the team need to be more aggressive in the aero department to make a large step forward, I think.

  6. Takes me back to 1997, which was probably the first f1 season I followed closely. I was in constant awe of the Williams Renault at that time. They should have a livery similar to the one they had in 96 and 97.

    1. The Last Pope
      5th July 2011, 2:48

      Urrrm They do right now. The 2011 williams livery is in the Rothmans livery style.

      1. They should go one further. Now Renault is on board, and their colour is yellow, they should add that to the blue and white of the Williams and re-create the 1989-1993 paintjob that they had when Renault first joined them.

        1. I agree, as I love that livery, but the yellow wasn’t from Renault, it was from the Camel sponsorship.

      2. They could change the shade blue though.. it was more of a navy blue colour that they had in 96 and 97

        1. *shade of blue

        2. The shade of blue is close enough, IMO. What they need to change is the shade of red they use now – it’s PDVSA red, not the old red they used in the Rothmans livery. It makes the car seem rather pale, and should be changed.

          1. I think the colour scheme is the least of their problems.

  7. too much nostalgia… although i’ve never been a fan, during the years of Williams vs Benetton i used to be a Williams supporter… hearing again “Williams Renault” after 14 years gives me shivers down my spine.

  8. Hope they perform good like in the 90’s

  9. Robert McKay
    4th July 2011, 19:13

    The cynic in me says all this really means is they’ll need to find new excuses for why they’re still rubbish in a couple of seasons time.

    Hoping to be proven wrong, though.

  10. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    4th July 2011, 19:40

    WIlliams had some success in 2000- 2001, when the car was able to produce some victories. Then they lost consistent results and fell down to their current state. This engine issue can finally fill the leaks Costworth have had. If they don’t do good, however, they will have a hard time looking for their inner problems. Renault is the engine to challenge, but let’s accept that some young assets could push this new alliance further than Rubens. If he still has enough motivation (let’s not forget his year at Brawn) he will materialize better performance with better scores. He and whoever his partner is.

    1. They had success in 2002-2004 as well in fact they were contenders for the title in 03! :D

    2. Rubens was fantastic during the Brawn era. It was the second driver and he did the best he could. Rubens must stay in Williams and he will…

  11. So we have a red McLaren, red Ferrari, Green Lotus, Black ‘Lotus’, and a blue (hopefully) Williams… OH THE NOSTALGIA!

    1. Now all we need is for Red Bull to put their livery on a Sauber.

    2. my dream is to have a blue-yellow-white Williams like the mid 80s-early 90s… that would be true nostalgia.

  12. This is ab-so-lutley BRILLIANT!! if only they could bring back the rothmans colours, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve back it would be fantastic! 1996 all over again :D!!

    1. if only they could bring back the rothmans colours

      Um, they already have – the FW33 is dark blue with white, silver and red.

      1. And it looks great for it.

    2. mmmm 96, great year! DH WDC.

  13. It’s hardly likely that the Renault engine is much better than the Cosworth, and despite Lotus getting further ahead of the other two new-comers, it’s not down to the engine.

    Patrick Head also supports this theory.

    Head pointed out that switching from Cosworth to Renault was no guarantee of success, but would remove one question mark over Williams’s package.

    “A lot of these engines are very close in their ultimate performance, some of their characteristics will vary quite a bit,” he said.

    “With Team Lotus one can see changing with engine (Cosworth to Renault), it didn’t light their performance up.


    Also. Anyone who thinks that Barrichello is anything other than a quick racing driver, hasn’t come up with any reason has to why he’s out-classing Maldanado and has out-classed Hulkenburg.

    1. Wouldn’t KERS be a pretty significant factor in how slow Team Lotus are? 80 hp for 6 seconds a lap adds up to quite a lot over the course of a race….

  14. Why is everyone saying “they should get the Rothmans livery back”?

    They are basically running that livery this year already…

    1. That’s what I thought, and this year’s livery is quite nice. I’d love to see a Camel-style livery next year, though I imagine somebody will kick up a fuss similar to when “Renault” did their thing.

      1. its much better since they dropped the white from the sidepod turning vanes.

  15. Of course, the main thing that they can’t bring back is currently employed by Red Bull.

  16. Gaston (@golarrazabal)
    4th July 2011, 20:28

    Is the Cosworth engine that bad? I was under the impression that its performance gap with the other engines, in general, was not particularly noteworthy. I don’t know where I’ve heard or read this, though.

    1. The HRTs were quite high up in the speed traps in Valencia if I remember correctly so the engine’s obviously got a bit of grunt in it.

      1. But that might just be because of their low downforce, giving less drag.

  17. surely some one else will be losing their supply of engines,due to this link up? …. wasnt lotus mooted in an earlier post? I really hope this deal is the re-birth of williams,but didnt they have really good engines with bmw???

  18. Surely we are all forgetting that the Renault engine is generally seen as on of the least powerful in the field and Williams have been getting it all wrong in the aero department for the last couple of years. I dont see how this is a step forward unless they make a massive leap forward in aero development. Thats how Red Bull compensate the lack of power of the engine.

    1. I was waiting for someone to say this and of course you are totally right.

      1. Well everyone is getting all sentimental about it as if the Renault engine is the class of the field like it was when they were last associated with each other, and when Williams had a young designer by the name of Adrian Newey……

    2. Thats all been shown to be a load of Horney distraction technique. The Renault engine may be lower in peak horsepower, but it seems to have a flatter horsepower curve which makes it more driveable. It’s also supposed to be the most fuel efficient, meaning less fuel, or more aggressive engine maps.

  19. This brings back some nostalgia for myself and for Williams no doubt.

    As we’re on the subject of engines…

    When does Mercedes leave F1 as a supplier to other teams (as I heard this was the case when they bought Brawn GP)?

    And… Anyone have any idea as to what McLaren are going to do? Perhaps it will be Williams replacing them at the front(ish) of the grid soon.

    1. i dont think they were planning to leave, just wind down their links with mclaren, except for engine supply.

  20. I think that Cosworth will only be around for the 2012 season.

    Adam Parr, today:

    “This deal will make a number of fundamental differences. First of all it is a world championship winning engine, and we are in a world where a tenth matters. Secondly, it is a partnership between us and an independent engine maker as well as a car maker, and that is very important.

    “We did explore that with Cosworth – could we bring a car maker into the partnership? Unfortunately we were not able to do that. From that minute onwards, it is Cosworth who said that we cannot develop an engine for 2013, and I can understand that because it is a huge investment.

    McLaren have a contract for Mercedes engines up until 2015.

    McLaren will also be near to or at the front of the grid for some time to come.

    1. Obviously from the above quote Williams wish to pay at least a part of their engine costs with naming rights, but would you want to buy a “Williams Clio” or does “Red Bull Clio” suggest better bragging rights.

      1. id still rather williams clio

        but im old fashioned

        its a fair point ho

        1. The Last Pope
          5th July 2011, 19:30

          I agree. Anybody who knows anything about cars will know of the classic Williams Renault Clio hot hatch. A new version would create far more interest than a “Red Bull Clio” which could be a cocktail drink.

          1. Try telling that to to all the Seb Vettel wannabes.

  21. I’m 100% pleased with this announcement. For nostalgic reasons, for technical reasons and most importantly because I can wear my old cap again.


    1. I’ve still got my Williams BMW cap….Damn! That’s not going to happen again.

  22. They can win again just replace pastor he is rubbish

    1. If only they needed to do that to win again.

  23. Great news! Williams must maintain Rubens in its roster too…Accelera Williams/Reanault/Rubinho!!

  24. Williams expects immediate progress when Renault deal starts in 2012.

    Well, more fool them. An engine deal alone isn’t going to reverse their fortunes.

  25. and now, they must get Adrian newey back as well
    only then the nostalgia is complete


  26. As VXR and Silencer pointed out, everyone is overlooking the most important factor. It wasn’t the Williams Renault that won all those titles in the 90’s, it was the Adrian Newey designed Williams Renault that won them. A great engine with poor aero will not win races consistently, just ask Ferrari….

    1. All very true, but Williams-Renault had some degree of success before Newey: two wins apiece in 1989 and 1990 and more podiums. I’m sure they’d sell their grannies at the team to achieve that sort of result now.
      And Benetton-Renault won both titles in 1995, and it wasn’t all just Schumacher as Herbert won races too.
      All academic of course, I’m just waffling :)

  27. It seems like Cosworth life in F1 is coming short.

    1. A real shame if we actually lose Cosworth. They’ve been one of the most consistent suppliers of F-1 engines as long as I can remember. With the latest rules package supposedly conducive to manufacturer involvement could a Ford-Cosworth reunion be in the future?

  28. soundscape (@)
    5th July 2011, 6:27

    9 titles in 8 years? Is that possible? Did I misread?

    1. soundscape (@)
      5th July 2011, 6:28

      Never mind, I read that actual article. All is explained. :)

  29. Here’s hoping Williams decide to go all retro with their logo as well, back to the old blue and gold ‘W’.

    1. Yeah, the new one just doesn’t cut it. they should also try and persuade Canon to come back: after all they did sponsor Brawn for the 2009 Singapore GP :D

  30. As a Williams fan I am under no illusion that this will lead to a repeat of the success the team enjoyed during the last Williams Renault tie up in the 1990s, however I hope this can help move them further up the grid.

    I worry for Cosworth’s F1 future now they only have two teams, and the two teams who are always at the bottom of the time sheets at that. Even if the sums add up at the moment in the V8 era, will they have the financial resources to develop a good V6 turbo while only supplying two teams.

    I liked how it was with four engine manufacturers each supplying three teams.

    1. Williams have already suggested that Cosworth will ‘not’ be developing a new engine for the 2013 season.

      1. Nobody is. The new regs come into effect in 2014 :)

  31. Any chance this will influence Williams’ driver choice for next year?
    The official Renault team has lots of drivers. Grosjean? Senna?

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      5th July 2011, 11:39

      Williams’ biggest problem right now is that they need money. To get money, they need sponsors. To get sponsors, they need results. And they do not have results. Unless they want to replace Barrichello – and they openly admit that they want to keep him – they will be dependent upon Pastor Maldonado and PDVSA for funding.

      It’s not all bad news, though. Last year, a lot of people thought Vitaly Petrov had no future in the sport. Now he’s pretty much leading Renault – he’s got more points than Nick Heidfeld and has been in Q3 at every race except Monaco and Valencia. There is no reason why Maldonado cannot knuckle down and produce a similar turn-around. He is, after all, the reigning GP2 champion.

      1. yup and he was doing just fine at monaco until late on

    2. Senna in a blue and white Williams Renault would be, I fear, tempting fate a bit too much

    3. Rubens will be present, definitely!

  32. I’ve seen other interviews with those such as Mansell etc. They seem to think that changing to Renault will make them champions(!).

    Mansell said that they don’t have to worry about the engine in the back now, but I think they may have to. We all know about the reliability of the Renault engine. Renault hasn’t particularly had a brilliant record of reliable engines over the past few seasons – failures have been frequent. But how can Mansell and Rubens justify their comments when the Cosworth engine is supreme in it’s reliability? Far better than Renault.

    It seems that they are just blaming them for their problems. Many posters on this and other forums think you need a Ferrari, Mercedes or Renault engine for F1, and that Cosworth engines are useless. What rubbish! They are blaming a great reliable engine manufacturer who has a proven record – one of the greatest in F1.

    This seems like they have changed engines to get more sponsors or some sort of financial deal, because cost wise, reliability wise and performance wise, Cosworth are on par if not better than others.

    Williams have again slapped Cosworth in the face.

    1. Don’t know where you get your info on reliability of the Renault engine but it seems fine to me especially in the RBR.

  33. Rubens might not be as good a driver as the younger ones but his experience means he can probably help the engineers more in setting up and developing the car, which at the moment is very important.

  34. Tony’s being smug about it all:

    tonyfernandes Tony Fernandes

    Hmm interesting adam parr who told me to stay with cosworth last year now goes our way with renault. Hahahah. See adam listen to uncle tony

    1. I sent him a fairly scathing reply. I honestly can’t bear the arrogant sod.

  35. No team and engine supplier name combo has ever had a better ring to it.

  36. So…why did Williams split with Renault following 1997? Can anyone tell me?

Comments are closed.