Renault RE601985 - 1985
Category: Formula One
The Renault RE60 was a Formula One car designed by Bernard Dudot and Jean-Claude Migeot and was raced by the Renault team in the 1985 season. A modified version of the car, RE60B, was introduced at the French Grand Prix but this failed to generate any better results. The cars were driven by Patrick Tambay and Derek Warwick who had also driven for the team in 1984. The best results were 2 third places for Tambay in Portugal and San Marino, the 2nd and 3rd races of the season. Renault had decided that funding a Formula One team was not worth attempts developing technology for their road cars and the bad PR generated by their continuous failures to be competitive had been the final straw.
The car was an evolution of the RE50 raced by the team in the 1984 but proved less successful than its predecessor with Tambay scoring the last two podium finishes for the team that pioneered the turbo engine in Formula One back in 1977. While the team and the Renault turbo engine had ultimately been successful in winning races they had never won either the constructors nor drivers' championships in F1.
Top Renault engineer Michel Tetu and 4 other key personnel had left the team and the entire team's employment structure had been reshuffled; this proved to be a total disaster for the Renault team. Upon getting to the Jacarepagua circuit in Rio de Janeiro for pre-season testing, testing by Warwick proved problematic. The car proved to be 3 1/2 seconds slower than the previous year's RE50, and it was later described by Warwick as being "impossible to drive".
The 1985 season proved to be the last for the factory Renault team although the Renault name would live on in Formula One with both V6 turbo and naturally aspirated V10 engines successfully supplied to various teams until Renault purchased and renamed the Benetton team at the end of 2001.
Of the four teams who used the turbocharged Renault V6 engine during the season, the factory-backed Renault team were outperformed by both Lotus and fellow French team Ligier. Lotus finished fourth in the Constructors' Championship, scoring 71 points and three wins, two for Ayrton Senna and one for Elio de Angelis. Ligier finished sixth in the title with seven more points than Renault who finished seventh with just 16 points scored. Tyrrell, who only started using the Renault engines from mid-season, scored 3 points.
Ironically for Derek Warwick, his initial contract with Renault was only for the 1984 season. During the year he was approached by the Williams team, who used turbocharged Honda engines, about driving for them in 1985 as a replacement for Jacques Laffite who was moving back to Ligier. As the results for the Honda engine had been relatively poor other than Keke Rosberg's win in the 1984 Dallas Grand Prix, Warwick felt his chances of winning were greater with Renault and he re-signed for the 1985 season, while the Williams drive eventually went to Nigel Mansell. It was a decision that Warwick would later regret as the 1985 Williams FW10 and its Honda engines won 4 races in 1985, including giving Mansell his first two career wins, the second of which was the South African Grand Prix that saw the French F1 teams, including the State owned Equipe Renault, boycott the race under the direction of the French Government in protest to South Africa's Apartheid policy. While Mansell would go on to ultimately win 31 races and the1992 World Championship in his career, Warwick's F1 career never recovered and he would never win a Grand Prix or drive in a truly competitive car again.
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