Renault R242004 - 2004
Category: Formula One
The Renault R24 is a Formula One car that competed in the 2004 Formula One season. It was clearly one of the fastest, most-reliable cars of the season, managing to outpace both the Williams and McLaren, as well as proving to be a consistent challenger to the equally fast BAR Hondas of Jenson Button and Takuma Sato. However, it was routinely bested by the Ferrari F2004 of Michael Schumacher & Rubens Barrichello, as the Ferrari duo won 15 of the 18 races in 2004. The driver line-up was Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso.
The team surprised everybody by becoming real contenders for second place in the Constructors' Championship. Trulli won the Monaco Grand Prix in spectacular fashion. However, his relationship with Renault (particularly with team principal and Trulli's ex-manager Flavio Briatore) deteriorated after he was consistently off the pace in the latter half of the year, and made claims of favouritism in the team towards Alonso (though the two teammates themselves remained friendly).
Commentators regularly point to the French Grand Prix as the final straw for Briatore, where Trulli was overtaken by Rubens Barrichello in the final stages of the last lap, costing Renault a double podium finish at their home Grand Prix. He went on without finishing any points and later got fired. After that, he announced that he was joining Toyota F1 for the following year and in fact left Renault early, driving the Toyota in the last two races of the 2004 season.
Hoping to secure second place in the Constructors' Championship, Renault replaced Trulli with 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve for the final three races. However, Villeneuve — away from F1 racing for almost an entire season and struggling to aclimatise quickly to racing at the premier level — did not impress, and the team finished third behind BAR with 105 points.
The R24 was loaned to The Stig for an episode of Top Gear. Renault claimed it would go around the Top Gear Test Track in less than one minute; the R24 got around in 59.0 seconds.
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