The years 2000 and on

année 2000

From the moment Renault bought the Benetton team, the first objective was to strengthen the links between the two technical facilities, at Viry-Châtillon (where Jean-Jacques His' V10 engines are designed), and Enstone, in England, (where Mike Gascoygne and his chassis and aerodynamics team are based).

Different context

The fuel used in Formula 1 is standard unleaded as sold on the forecourt. The only added value comes from lubricants. The low profile of the innovative French V10 - which has the widest angle of all the engines in the pit lane - required maximum effort from lubricant research. Whilst the previous generation of V10 revved up to 14,000 rpm, the latest V10 exceeds 18,000. Which means around 300 revs per second, 150 ignitions per cylinder per second. By continually working to improve flammability properties and building models for combustion, Elf engineers are perfecting energy-saving lubricants, which avoid frictional losses and therefore give greatest possible power.

Getting close to the top three

Behind the Ferraris, McLaren-Mercedes and Williams BMWs, Renault were in the thick of the chasing pack in 2002, comfortably outpacing Sauber, Jordan, Jaguar and Bar. For 2003, the goal was to get even closer to the top three and - if possible - give them a run for their money and score a few more points. To do this, the number one objective was to focus on the reliability and strength of the engine-chassis combination, whilst continuing to improve performance. The RS 23 engine and R23 body that lined up on the grid in 2003 had the advantage of being designed in 2001. A combination of taking these crucial major technical decisions so early, with - notably - a new gearbox, solved the problems that emerged in 2001 and 2002. This particularly applies to the actual structure of the engine, and the way it integrates with the chassis. This forward-thinking, clear design and planning were to enable the technical teams to be perfectly prepared for the new season in March 2003, though the Renault F1 Team was not to be at full throttle until the 2004-2005 season, when it will be able to focus on its stated intention: becoming World champion once more.

Enstone 2004 to 2011

In 2004, Ferrari and Michael Schumacher remain out of reach but it will take several months to be confirmed. In the opening races, Renault's R24, a winning car in Monaco in the hands of Jarno Trulli, rivals the top teams. The Italian departing for Toyota for the last three races, Renault finally finished third in the Constructors table. It's one better than in 2003.

2005 will finally be the year of full success. Giancarlo Fisichella leads the way by winning the first race in Australia. Alonso follows suit taking the next three on his way to become the first Spanish world champion. At Imola, topping a memorable dogfight with Schumacher, the young Asturian builds a psychological edge over the seven-time champion putting an end to German historic reign. At 24, Alonso became the youngest world champion.

Alonso and Renault keep winning the following year with a second consecutive title ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. The Spaniard and the team led by Flavio Briatore would have left their mark in the history of Formula One before splitting. Looking for a new challenge, Alonso raised eyebrows by announcing, late 2005, he joined McLaren as for 2007.

Alonso and Renault keep winning the following year with a second consecutive title ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. The Spaniard and the team led by Flavio Briatore would have left their mark in the history of Formula One before splitting. Looking for a new challenge, Alonso raised eyebrows by announcing, late 2005, he joined McLaren as for 2007.

Fortunately, after a nervy year in Woking, Alonso heads back home in 2008. He teams up with Nelson Piquet Jr, son of three-time world champion and manages a good end of season even if Renault fails to stay on the podium. Alonso prevails in Japan and Singapore. But the latter race is the starting point of the so-called Crashgate which will have major consequences outfit's fate during the following season where Renault makes the headlines more for this saga than for their performances on track.

Open a new era was more than necessary for the Losange who decided to sell 75 percent of its shares to the Luxembourg-based company Genii Capital (led by Gerard Lopez). The young engineer Eric Boullier was invested as team boss. The name of Renault remained, not the young French Romain Grosjean, who had replaced Piquet, and made way to Vitaly Petrov and especially Robert Kubica. Pole's talent wasn't unknown quantity in the paddock but it splashed as he drove the R30 to three podiums, as many key results in Renault's fifth place in the standings.

Renault SA fully withdrew from Renault F1 at the end of 2010 and the team became Lotus Renault GP with the arrival of another prestigious name as title sponsor. Black and gold livery brought back so much memories. All in all, Enstone had managed to bounce back in style before they were suddenly hit by the news of Kubica's high-speed crash contesting a local rally in Italy. The Pole had almost severed his right hand. Short after being the fastest at the first pre-season test, he was to withdraw for 2011 and beyond. Deprived of his gem, Boullier signed Nick Heidfeld and Bruno Senna, good drivers but not as talented as ‘Kub'

While Lotus announced they bought shares of the then fifth best team on the market, Enstone's outfit enters into 2012 with a new name, Lotus F1, and two new drivers. Boullier indeed managed to convince Kimi Raikkonen end an adventurous rally career and decided to give Grosjean, an easy GP2 champion, another chance to thrive at the pinnacle of motor sport..

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