Dudot about the 111° RS23

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The wide-angle RS23 V10 benefited from frequent developments during the 2003 season, to the point that the Renault F1 team’s R23B was fighting for regular podiums during the final races of the championship. Here Bernard Dudot speaks about life at Viry during 2003.

What is your verdict on the wide-angle engine concept?

In 2003, this power-plant earned its place among a select group of engines that have won a Grand Prix. That is actually quite revealing: bad engines do not win races. I think the result was a fair reward for all the work of the engineers at Viry-Châtillon: they made a huge effort throughout the season, and the taste of victory certainly made up for some of their sleepless nights.

Ten retirements in thirty-two starts: from a reliability point of view, the verdict is not quite as positive. Is that a worry?

It is a fact that we lacked reliability. Had we finished every race in the positions where our cars were running when they retired, we could have been fighting with McLaren until the end of the championship. That is certainly a little frustrating, but we know what caused each retirement. These figures also demonstrate that the concept would not be suited to next season's regulations, which dictate the engine must complete at least 700km with a single block. A change in philosophy was necessary, and we are confident for 2004.

The pace of development quickened in the second half of the season.

Exactly. From Montreal onwards, our pace of development accelerated. Furthermore, as soon as we were sure of our fourth place in the Constructors' Championship, we allowed ourselves to take more technical risks. They did not always pay off, because higher engine speeds place more stress on a large number of components. However, the gain in power between Melbourne and Suzuka was significant.

How many different evolutions did you use?

Between the Australian Grand Prix and Japan, Renault used ten different engine specifications. That's an impressive total, and gives an indication of how hard the team at Viry-Châtillon was working.

From a personal point of view, how was your season?

It was a difficult year, because we were always pushing to the limit: every race was a balancing act between performance and reliability. As an F1 enthusiast, though, I have to say that 2003 was a vintage season, and I think the new points distribution system generated a closer championship. Looking ahead, I believe the new technical regulations will see some more changes in the balance of power, and that the championship will become even more competitive. That's good news for anybody who loves Formula One.