The ING Renault F1 Team today officially launched its 2008 season as it revealed the brand new Renault F1 R28 and its driver line-up at Renault’s communications headquarters in Boulogne-Billancourt, on the banks of the Seine in south-west Paris. Renault's Team President Bernard Rey was happy to talk about the new car and the ambitions for 2008.
Interview with Bernard Rey
2007 was a difficult year for the team. What are the ambitions for 2008?
"We expect to see the team back in its normal place, fighting at the front of the field. This is the target that the team has set itself for the new car. On the technical side, everybody has worked hard to overcome the problems encountered last year. On the driver front, Fernando Alonso’s return was an important boost. There is optimism inside the team and within Renault."
You have occupied your current role since September 2007. What is your assessment of the team?
"The financial outlook is positive. The investment plans for the team are solid, and we have seen renewed commercial interest ahead of the new season. On a professional level, I have been extremely impressed by the team’s outlook and approach. Their dedication is second to none, the morale has remained intact during some difficult moments, and they have set themselves demanding targets for the year ahead. The team is concrete proof of the Renault Group’s ability to perform, and succeed, at the highest level."
Renault often speaks of the need to maximise the return on its F1 investment. Can you explain how this is being achieved?
"Formula 1 is one of the main pillars of the company’s global sales and marketing strategies. In non-traditional markets, Formula 1 is a powerful tool for building brand awareness – and in 2007, Renault’s sales outside Western Europe grew by 16.5%. Our status as one of the sport’s leading teams demonstrates Renault can build vehicles that deliver performance, reliability and high technology. To make the most of our Formula 1 involvement, our product range must complement these values – and 2008 will see the launch of nine new models. From an overall perspective, Formula 1 is a meaningful and profitable investment for Renault."
The company has also invested in promotional programmes such as the Renault F1 Roadshow…
"Observers have termed the Roadshow programme the most cost-effective promotional tool in the sport, and that really says it all. It is a fantastic lever for generating coverage in markets which do not host a race. In Mexico City last year, hundreds of thousands of people watched our cars running on the city’s main avenue. Many of these are potential customers for Renault and our partners, and many millions more are reached by the media coverage of these unique events. These events have been universally successful, and will continue to expand to new markets in 2008."
Cost-efficiency in Formula 1 is an important topic at the moment, with a budget cap scheduled for next year. What is Renault’s position on this issue?
"Our successes in recent years demonstrate that Renault is prepared to make the necessary investments to succeed. However, we also believe that Formula 1 needs to become more cost-efficient, and in the past, we have been pro-active in working with the FIA to achieve this. We believe that a budget cap is a good solution. It would reward the best-managed and mostefficient teams; and spending would be contained at a sustainable level."
The FIA also aims to make Formula 1 the spearhead for technology change in road cars, by promoting ‘green’ technologies. Does Renault support this move?
"Renault has taken an important lead on environmental issues, with a commitment to sell one million vehicles emitting less than 140g/km of CO2 in 2008, and one third of these emitting less than 120g/km of CO2. We believe it is entirely logical that Formula 1 should be used to promote new technologies that can improve the energy-efficiency of road-going vehicles, and to transform public perceptions of those solutions: it is consistent with the values of high technology, performance and reliability that the sport embodies. The introduction of KERS for 4 2009 will be an important step, and the project will showcase the best technological solutions of the combined resources of the Renault-Nissan Alliance."