The V10 years

f1 V10

1989: the first victory

The engineers made the most of the time away from F1 to think up and design a normally-aspirated 3-litre V10 engine. Building a chassis was no longer an option, so Renault made do with supplying engines to Englishman Frank Williams' team. At the height of the duel between Senna and Prost - teammates and rivals at McLaren -Williams, drivers Riccardo Patrese and Thierry Boutsen had their work cut out. Patrese led the charge, finishing second in Mexico and in the US, before leaving Boutsen to take a stunning victory in the Canadian Grand Prix. This was the Belgian driver's first win - his second came at the final event of the year in Adelaide. This was a great victory for the French V10 and one that signalled many more to come.

Nigel Mansell brings hope

The following year, Patrese was rewarded with a win at his home circuit of Imola. Boutsen took his third victory in Budapest, but it was a season of mixed fortunes. Whereas in 1989, Williams-Renault scored 77 points to finish second behind McLaren (with 141 points), in 1990 they had to be content with fourth place and 57 points. The long-awaited progress would only come to fruition a year later with the return of Nigel Mansell. The British driver won three races in a row, including the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours, before winning again late in the season at Monza and Barcelona. This time around, Williams-Renault-Elf, with 125 points, were hot on the heels of McLaren-Honda, who scored 139 points.

1992: an unforgettable double

As the 1992 season dawned, anything looked possible! Mansell went on to take five straight victories at the start of the season! He was unbeatable. His state of grace continued over the summer with 3 more precious victories and he crowned the season in fine style at the Portuguese Grand Prix. Nigel Mansell and Williams-Renault-Elf carried off a drivers' and manufacturers' World Championship double that would stand out in motorsport history. Never in the history of Formula 1 had a driver won so many races in a single season.

No end to the drama or the racing

Ayrton Senna replaced Mansell in 1994. Williams-Renault-Elf was still performing - it seemed as though nothing could upset the momentum of the Franco-British team. Nothing, except the very worst: the tragedy at Imola on 1st May. Senna went straight on at the Tamburello curve. The shock was terrible. Formula 1 was suddenly mourning one of its greatest talents. The team won the manufacturers' title at the end of the season, thanks to six victories by Damon Hill, but victory that year had a bitter taste. But the show went on... Michael Schumacher and Flavio Briatore for Benetton presented Renault and Elf with another double in 1995, before Williams regained supremacy in the next two years through Damon Hill (1996) and Jacques Villeneuve (1997). Eleven World titles in six years, signalled that the time had come for the French manufacturer and oil company to take a break. To bring the book of records to a temporary close... before writing a new chapter in the early years of this new millennium.

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