With Williams obviously happy to have secured Renault engines, the view of Renault's side of the story is quite similar. The company was looking to extend its brand exposure, while it is still discussion further cooperation with Williams as well.
Why did Renault Sport F1 choose Williams as its fourth partner ? "With a fourth team, one third of the grid, Renault has more opportunity to increase its brand visibility through credible results and marketing opportunities, therefore further enhancing the efficiency of its investment into the sport. Renault remains in F1 to achieve success in a cost efficient way, and the partnership with Williams has great potential to add to the results we have notched up over the recent years with our three other partner teams. Williams has recently taken several important steps, both commercially and technically, to update its operations and we feel that this partnership is another important step in its rigorous plan. It reiterates how determined the team is to achieve results, which matches perfectly with our own objectives."
There is mention of other business opportunities, what does this entail? "Discussions concerning other business and consumer marketing opportunities are ongoing, but we have already held talks with Williams regarding F1-road car synergies. There is a huge amount of goodwill on both sides and all avenues will be explored in the coming months. Of course Williams and Renault collaborated on several projects over their previous nine year relationship, including Williams Grand Prix Engineering running Renault Lagunas in the British Touring Car Championship from 1995 – 1997. The association was very successful, taking the triple crown of the drivers’, team and manufacturers’ championships in 1997 with Alain Menu. We’ve got no plans to go down this route, instead concentrating our efforts on F1 and extracting maximum benefit from it."
How does Renault Sport F1 expect to change its operations to supply a fourth team? "At the end of 2010 we announced a third team, Team Lotus, would be added to our existing partners of Lotus Renault GP and Red Bull Racing. By the results we have achieved this year we have already demonstrated that there has been no drop off in performance or service in doing so. The team at Viry see it very positively and are looking forward to a new relationship. We have sufficient facilities to adequately service a fourth client and will consider our internal structures before recruiting more personnel if necessary. Our priority is maintaining the excellent customer service and satisfaction and we’ll take necessary measures to restructure operations if necessary."
How will the Williams engine team be structured? "Each partner has a dedicated team of six engineers and technicians, with a head of track operations overseeing the separate teams. The chassis information is kept confidential between teams and only engine performance or reliability details are shared by the head of track operations. We would look to continue this structure as it is recognized by everyone – inside and outside our company – to be working well this year."
With four teams, will any one team be given any preference? "RSF1 treats its partner teams with equal respect and each team has access to the same facilities and same in-house expertise. Our partner teams have different strategies and priorities and we try to address each as part of our service, but we do not have a preferential policy towards any of our partners. Additionally the current contracts do not allow us to do so. We believe that competition between teams is healthy and beneficial for the overall performance and development of the engine, including amongst our customers."
Williams collaborates with other manufacturers, including Jaguar. Do you see a clash of interests here, or even any potential for joint initiatives? "At present our interests are with AT&T Williams, which covers the team’s F1 activities. Williams also collaborates with Jaguar on another road-going project and this is very separate to the F1 operations. We will work with the team to create marketing opportunities for the Renault brand but we currently don’t foresee any non-F1 collaborations with the team’s other partners."
When will work start on the 2012 collaboration? "We have had initial meetings to determine the personnel involved and a small team has already visited the team’s base in the UK. When the team’s 2012 chassis design starts in earnest we will start working much more closely. This is typically in the next two months, leading through the winter and into the testing period next year."
Who will have the responsibility of the KERS supply to Williams? "Since the introduction of the KERS, Williams has been investing into hybrid technologies as it sees this as part of F1 future. While the new engine formula to come in 2014 will require a higher degree of integration between the IKE and the ERS, the two can currently exist independently in the current regulations. However RSF1 and Williams have agreed to envisage synergies before 2014 if this can be beneficial either from a technical of a financial perspective."