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27-02-2017 | Race Cars | News | Article

Renault Targets a Top Spot in Formula One with the R.S.17

Author: Benjamin Auerbach

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Renault Sport Formula One Team will launch the newly developed R.S.17 in 2017. The works team spearheaded by new team member Nico Hülkenberg is targeting fifth place in the Constructors’ World Championship. 

Renault has set its sights high with its Formula One racing car. The team is eyeing a top spot in the constructor standings with the R.S.17. Unlike in the previous year, Renault has overseen the entire production process of the R.S.17. This makes it Renault’s first real Formula One vehicle of the hybrid era. On 26 March, the racing car will receive its baptism of fire at the opening race in Melbourne. "2017 is the first season that we’ll work from the start as a team", declares Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport Racing Managing Director. "Our 2016 car, the R.S.16, was conceived in an unbelievably short timeframe. This year we were able to develop our car in close coordination between the engine factory in Viry-Châtillon and the chassis production in Enstone. This is why we’re expecting great improvements next season", adds Abiteboul.

According to Bob Bell, Chief Technical Officer of Renault Sport Formula One Team, there are no components from its predecessor, the R.S.16. The R.S.16 was based on the Formula One racing cars E22 and E23 of the Lotus F1 team acquired at the end of December 2015. "There is no carry-over of componentry from 2016 to 2017, so it really has been a 'clean sheet of paper' approach. Everything’s new: suspension, bodywork, internal components, the lot", says Renault Team’s Technical Head. Even the heart of the car, the monocoque, is significantly different from its predecessor in order to integrate the power unit and the cooling systems.

New aerodynamics are expected to reduce lap times 

Fundamental rule changes made for the 2017 season should lead to faster lap times. The width of the cars has increased from 1.80 metres to 2.0 metres. At the same time, the front and rear wings have become larger. The front wing will measure 1.80 metres in future instead of a width of 1.65 metres. In addition, the tip will protrude 20 centimetres beyond the front end of the endplates, resulting in an aggressive arrow shape. The rear wing has been widened by 15 centimetres to 95 centimetres. The wing itself will sit 15 centimetres lower than before; the endplates will be set at an angle of 30 degrees. A second rear wing element will also be permitted again.

These measures are intended to boost downforce, thereby increasing cornering speeds. This could reduce lap times by up to five seconds, although the top speed on the straights will come down at the same time. "The changes are so fundamental that they resemble a revolution in many respects", say Bob Bell, Chief Technical Officer of Renault Sport Formula One Team. He is confident about Renault Team’s chances in the coming season: "Our performance metrics show that we’ve made gains in a strong and consistent manner throughout its development."

New challenges for energy recovery

The rule changes in aerodynamics will also affect energy recovery. More downforce will mean higher air resistance and hence longer full load phases and higher energy consumption due to a stronger electrical boost needed on the straights. Since the top speed will decrease, but at the same time the cornering speeds will increase, the braking zones will become shorter, which will also mean less time will be available to feed new energy into the system. "We’re countering this development by changing the balance between the two recovery systems", explains Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport Formula One Team Engine Technical Director. As background information, the MGU-K (Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic) transforms the kinetic energy generated during braking in the form of frictional heat into electrical energy. In addition to the MGU-K, Formula One cars have the MGU-H (Motor Generator Unit – Heat) that is used to generate electrical energy from the waste heat of the exhaust gases. 

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