As Formula One says goodbye to its era of naturally aspirated V8 engines, Renault Sport F1 has become the most successful engine manufacturer during this period and have furthermore also taken the win in the engine's final race at Brazil.
Most of the wins for the Renault V8 came of course from Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel, and it was therefore more than fitting to see Vettel become the last last winner of a race using an F1 V8 engine in today’s Brazilian Grand Prix. Renault notably also won the first V8-powered race in 2006 as Fernando Alonso won in the Bahrain Grand Prix in a Renault R26.
Over this era, the V8 engine developed by 250 engineers at Renault Sport F1’s headquarters in Viry-Châtillon has won 5 Constructors’ titles with two partners, Infiniti Red Bull Racing (2010-2011-2012-2013) and Renault F1 Team (2006).
Rob White, deputy managing director (technical) looks back on the V8s: ‘Getting to the end of an engine formula is a time for reflection and I am proud of what we’ve achieved. The birth of the V8 was an opportunity, but also an enormous challenge. We were fighting for the 2005 championship with the last V10 and ultimately succeeding brought a weight of expectation to bear. The team at Viry did a great job to manage the development of two engines in parallel and to win with both.
‘Among the wins that stand out for me is the first race of the V8 era, the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2006, won by Alonso. It was a fantastic relief to know that our hard work and difficult choices had been on the right track. We had been up against it for the development of the V8, and we took some decisions that surprised our competitors and onlookers at the time – for example we were very late to test on track; everyone else was running an interim car on circuits while we were back at base dyno testing!
‘Securing the title at the last race in 2006 was a very special feeling. To show how intense it was, I do not actually remember the race in Brazil – I remember more the reaction at the factory and the celebrations with all the Renault team.
‘Winning as both a team owner and an engine supplier is also a major achievement, also to adapt to the very different requirements of both environments. In Abu Dhabi 2010 we pulled it off with Red Bull Racing when Vettel won his first Drivers’ championship. We had had some problems during the season, but remained focused and determined to support our partner the end. The race was very tense and Sebastian’s victory in the race and well-earned championship were a great relief.
‘Winning today seems a fitting end to the era – we’ve won a lot of races and learned a great deal. The challenge facing the Viry team for 2014 cannot be underestimated. Success in the past is no guarantee of success in the future, but if we keep the same spirit and work ethic that have yielded results with the V8, it bodes well for next year and beyond."
On Sunday at Brazil, after the race, Renault gave its drivers a chance to one last time fire up their engines, at Caterham revving them well above 10000rpm. At Red Bull Racing, both Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were given the chance to fire up their final V8s themselves to give them a proper send-off in the garage.
In 8 years of competition, the RS27 was good for 60 wins, 66 pole positions, 56 fastest laps and a total of 3708.5 World Championship points.
The company have built 1271 engines, 683 for track use, 588 for dyno use, totalling more than 2,000,000 km. 7,600,000 parts were used, including 21,800 pistons, 43,200 inlet valves, 45,900 exhaust valves, 43,800 connecting-rod bolts, 22,000 spark plugs and 10,600 oil filters
With the curtain now down on the normally-aspirated V8 engines, the scene is set for the downsized, turbocharged V6 Power Units equipped with potent electrical recovery systems in 2014.