Renault unveils black and gold R31

The famous black and gold livery makes a return this season as Renault unveiled its new R31 challenger to the press in the Valencia pitlane.

Vitaly Petrov will have the first opportunity to shakedown the R31 during the opening day of official testing at the Valencia circuit, with team-mate Robert Kubica taking over the last two days.

The R31 features a pull-rod suspension for the rear end, while the structure underneath the car (the tea tray) appears quite radical compared to rival cars.

Technical director James Allison described the development direction Renault has taken as ‘brave’ saying:

“Anyone who follows the sport will have seen that words like aggressive [and] brave are being bandied around across several of the teams this year for their solutions.

“I believe that we have chosen a direction that is really on the brave end of brave.”

The team also revealed that former HRT driver Bruno Senna will join Romain Grosjean, Jan Charouz, Ho-Ping Tung and Fairuz Fauzy as part of the team’s test and reserve driving strength.

9 thoughts to “Renault unveils black and gold R31”

  1. Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean have been named as part of Renault’s test and reserve line-up for 2011.

    Grosjean used to be a Renault protege before his disastrous part-season in Formula 1 with the squad following Nelson Piquet’s sacking in mid-2009. Having lost his place in F1, he raced in World GT1, won the inaugural Auto GP title, and returned to GP2 last year.

    His career is now being managed by the Gravity organisation run by Renault team owner Genii, and he will dovetail his renewed F1 role with a full season in GP2 with DAMS.

    “For sure it’s a great feeling,” said Grosjean. “I think it’s the best option for me to get back in a [Formula 1] racing car in 2012.”

    Senna joins the Renault roster having raced for HRT in F1 last season.

    “It’s a great leap of faith from them to give me this shot, so I’m very happy,” said Senna. “I’m very excited. I hope this year can get better and better.”

    Renault has also retained Ho-Pin Tung and Jan Charouz, both of whom were part of Gravity’s driver development programme last year, and has added former Lotus third driver Fairuz Fauzy.


  2. Renault interviews as seen on Links can be accessed by clicking.

    Q&A with Robert Kubica:
    Q&A with Vitaly Petrov:
    Q&A with Eric Boullier:
    Q&A with Bruno Senna:
    Q&A with Romain Grosjean:
    Q&A with Renault’s James Alison

  3. Bruno Senna is aiming to use his time as Renault’s third driver to convince the team he is worthy of a race seat in 2012.

    The 27-year-old Brazilian, who raced in Formula 1 for HRT last season, said at the launch of the team’s R31 at Valencia on Monday, that while he did not know whether he would get the opportunity to drive the car during Friday practice sessions he hoped that the tests he conducted in the old car would convince Renault of his potential.

    “I think it’s a pretty good deal,” said Senna. “We had some conversations about being an official driver in other teams, but it turned out from what we could muster that this was the best option.

    “I am third driver and I’ll be following the team at every race. I will do some tests with the old car, some technical tests – like straight-line testing – for the team. Then hopefully if there is a spot opening to do some Friday testing, but that’s not certain.

    “I hope that I can drive sometimes on Fridays, I really wish to have a taste of this car sometime. But it’s up to the team. In the end it must be beneficial to the team. They need to win races and to be competitive this year so there’s no point in getting someone else intruding on them.

    “I need to push as hard as I can to learn much more than I could learn last year, technically. Then hopefully have an opportunity next year to be in the race seat,” he added.

    “It will depend on how I can use this opportunity to create the image of course. Being a third driver nowadays doesn’t give you the opportunity to drive the car very much. I will have the opportunity to drive the old car a few times, which is good. The integration with the team will help a lot.

    “A lot of how things are in Formula 1 is the personal relationships. And if I get an opportunity to drive the car a bit, I’m sure I can convince them of what I can do and hopefully get an opportunity for the future.”

    Senna said that just working within the team during grands prix weekends would help him develop as a driver and that he intended to use the chance to work with an established team to build on the experience he gained with HRT.

    “For me being here is a great thing because I’ll be learning from great people with so much experience – they have been world champions in the past. It’s essentially the same team. I think the learning curve is going to be very steep here, learning from good drivers as well, from Robert and Vitaly.

    “For me being a third driver at a team that has won titles before and has all the experience, it can only be beneficial for me. I can only learn a lot from this.

    “Technically I will be seeing the engineers and the drivers, learning how they work with that – it’s going to be the first time I’m going to be part of a big team, I’ve never been part of a big team before. And it’s preparation, it’s all about preparation for me, so I guess when or if I have the opportunity to drive the car as a first driver I will be much more at home.”

    Senna added that he does not currently have any plans to race elsewhere this season but suggested when asked that he would not be averse to returning to sportscars – in which Renault sponsor Group Lotus has programmes in several categories. “Maybe,” he said. “It mustn’t clash with the Formula 1 – that is the priority.

    “Anything I do I must still be strictly focused on Formula 1 as my main focus,” he added.

    “At the moment [there are no plans for anything else]. It’s been a very late deal, this was the first priority to sort out. Now we have sorted it out we can start looking at what else we can do. But you know it’s 20 races during the season, it’s not going to be easy to find something else in the between time.”

    Asked about the links to the team’s black and gold livery, similar to that sported by his uncle Ayrton in 1985 and ’86, he replied: “It feels great. For me it’s extremely special to be linked with the Lotus car and the colours.

    “Who doesn’t remember Ayrton with the black and gold car? If it’s special for other people, it’s special for me.”


  4. Renault’s Robert Kubica has commented thay it is too early to judge how competitve the R31 will be this season. has the details.

    Robert Kubica says it is too early to judge how competitive Renault will be in 2011, although the Pole feels the team is better prepared than last year.

    The team was one of the positive surprises of 2010, with Kubica fighting near the top in several races and achieving three podium finished on his way to eighth place in the championship.

    And although team bosses said they goal is to start winning races again, Kubica is refusing to get carried away.

    “I think realistically speaking is far too early to say what will be possible to achieve this year,” Kubica told reporters during the launch of the R31.

    “Last season was quite disappointing and let’s hope this year will be different. I think definitely we are more prepared this year, because of the more stable situation in the team than last winter, when I joined the team.

    “The winter of 2009 and 2010 was very difficult for Renault and I think this year the engineers and designers had a much easier time and much more time to design the car and I think they have done a really good job.

    “But you never know what your main competitors did, so if they have done a better job than us then it will be difficult to achieve something more. But from my side I will try to deliver and extract the maximum from the package and deliver good driving and hope for good results.”

    Kubica admitted his past experiences have taught him that he cannot be too positive – or negative – until the racing begins.

    “I think if you blow too much air into a balloon, the balloon can explode very easily,” he said. “It’s too early. I learned from the past years that in January you can expect everything. In 2008 it’s the best example, with BMW.

    “We were hoping for podiums and victories and we put the car on track and we finished the Valencia test with more than two seconds to the front. Then we went to Australia for the first race and we were on the first row. It can change very quickly.”

    The Pole also played down the significance of the Lotus brand reappearing in his team’s name.

    “I think Lotus is our sponsor. At least from what I know it is a sponsor,” he said when asked if he dreamt to drive for Lotus.

    “So I could also say it is my dream to drive for Total. I think it would be different if Lotus owned the team and were fully involved into the team. It’s a good partner to have and they have high ambitions. It looks promising.”

  5. As for Vitaly Petrov, he is looking forward to the new season as a Renault driver. has the story.

    Vitaly Petrov says the security of his new two-year deal leaves him feeling ‘free’ going into his second Formula 1 season with Renault.

    The team waited until the end of 2010 before re-signing Petrov, having been concerned that he could not consistently deliver his best form. During the year, Renault bosses had openly stated that Petrov had to become a regular top-10 contender to hang on to his seat.

    Petrov admitted that the pressure of fighting to save his drive while having to learn about F1 had weighed heavily on him, and that starting 2011 knowing he was confirmed at the team until the end of 2012 made a big difference.

    “Last year it was a little bit tense, but now I’m free and I can breathe,” he said.

    The Russian added that he was confident of being much more competitive with his learning period out of the way.

    “Of course it’s easier,” said Petrov. “I don’t need to learn like last year, just adapt to some new things like KERS and the rear wing.”

    He said his season-best fifth place at the Hungaroring – a track he knew relatively well – showed what he could do when less hampered by inexperience.

    “All the weekend I was perfect,” Petrov said. “I know this track very well and all the secrets of this track. I knew how to make the car work well and that was why I was quite competitive.”

  6. Romain Grosjean is hoping his deal with Renault will lead to a second chance that allows him to shine in Formula 1.

    The Frenchman made his Formula 1 debut with Renault when he replaced Nelson Piquet Jr. in 2009.

    He struggled to make an impression, however, and was unable to find a drive in F1 in 2010.

    But on Monday Renault announced Grosjean will be one of the team’s reserve drivers, and he is hoping that leads to a race seat in 2012.

    “It’s a big, big chance for me to be back here,” said Grosjean. “The idea was to come back into Formula 1, now my mission is to get a race seat for 2012, so this year is very important in this way.

    “I have the chance to be close to the Formula 1 team, to get some more experience and to know them better than before. It’s good to be in this way. And the mission will be to get the title in GP2 and be back as a race driver in 2012 in Formula 1.”

    He added: “Hopefully this is my real chance. The first one, it wasn’t a good time, it wasn’t a good place, unfortunately. But let’s try to get the real chance to have a seat in Formula 1.”

    Grosjean, who will also be racing in GP2 this year, admitted it was very good to be returning to Renault.

    “It feels quite great, there are a lot of people that I really like in the team so it’s always good to be back. I can feel that the atmosphere is already not the same as it was.

    “There is a fighting, winning spirit inside of the team. When you go to the factory you can really feel it. It’s very enjoyable.”


  7. With two Lotus launches on the same day (January 31st), the on-going row over the use of the Lotus name rages on. has the story.

    Renault team owner Gerard Lopez has expressed his frustration at the ongoing row over the use of the Lotus name in Formula 1 – and has urged his rival Tony Fernandes to come clean about the real reasons behind the dispute.

    Ahead of a court case that will start in March to decide the fate of the Lotus brand in F1, and whether Fernandes can use the Team Lotus moniker, Lopez says he is frustrated that the matter has overshadowed the build-up to the new season.

    And although the controversy between his own Lotus-sponsored Renault outfit and Team Lotus has caused much confusion among fans, Lopez is adamant that arguments about heritage and passion are disguising the real reasons behind the situation.

    Lopez insists that the fight is purely about money – and that Fernandes is only determined to keep using the Lotus name because otherwise he would have to sacrifice television rights money that could be due to him after finishing tenth in the Constructors’ Championship last year.

    “I can tell when somebody is trying to twist things – and it is a shame because we’ve never twisted things in any form or fashion,” said Lopez at the launch of the new Renault at Valencia on Monday.

    “We’ve just said that we have a partnership with Lotus – Lotus are a great car company and I think they have decided to be quite aggressive in terms of development. They want to have a business association with F1, they want to promote their brand and, honestly, there is only one Lotus car company. Anything else is a bunch of BS.

    “I am aware of the negotiations that took place and I know that money is essentially the centre piece of this. It is not passion; it is not taking over Colin Chapman’s legacy or whatever.

    “It is a fact that if 1Malaysia Racing changes its name, it loses its FOM money. And yeah, it is an issue for them – and one that probably I would not take too kindly to if I was in their shoes. Obviously I would be fighting.

    “But just admit to the reality – and the fact is, it is about money and nothing else.”

    If a constructor changes its name without approval from rival outfits and the sport’s commercial chiefs, including Bernie Ecclestone, then it has to sacrifice its rights to a share of F1’s commercial income.

    AUTOSPORT understands that Lotus could be eligible for as much as $36 million in future prize and television rights money for its performance last year after breaking into the top ten – although such payments also depend on its performances in the next few seasons too.

    Lopez thinks the public arguments about the fate of the Lotus name have only served to damage the brand’s name.

    “I don’t think there is any question about who is going to be who on the race track, but I still think it is damaging to have that go around the Lotus name,” he said.

    “And what I believe is quite damaging is to act as the small team that has been beaten up, as David and Goliath. Hello? We are a private team. We do have a sponsor but we are privately owned and we just happen to be bigger.

    “But the whole thing about being the poor kid who gets beaten up at the back of the room? That makes me laugh sometimes. The fact is it is all about money. They stand to lose money if they change the name, and they should be honest and say that.”

    Lopez says the issue with television rights money was why Renault decided not to try and changes its name to Lotus, despite the major sponsorship tie-up and plans by the car company to become a future shareholder in the outfit.

    When asked by AUTOSPORT about whether a constructors’ name change was considered, Lopez said: “No. Because we are honest about it. We would have lost money. And rather than BS, we would rather tell the truth.

    “The fact is we have a Renault engine, we have a Renault partnership and we are Renault’s preferred team in terms of development for the future for the 2013 engine, so we have a right to keep the Renault name.

    “But at the same time, if we tried to change, it we would have had issues with the television rights. We are honest about it and never claimed anything else.”

    Lopez also confirmed that his Genii Capital company was the 100 per cent owner of the Renault team, despite an initial announcement that Lotus had become a major shareholder in the team when its sponsorship deal was revealed.

    “We bought the 25 per cent left from Renault, so we own today 100 per cent,” he said. “Lotus is a sponsor number one, and they have actually purchased an option that gives them a right to purchase a certain stake in the team within the next two years.

    “But as we speak and, for the foreseeable future, we are totally the owners. We have a lot of relationships at Proton above the F1 level and that is really what makes this work. Whether they own 1 per cent or 51 per cent or 101 per cent , at the end of the day, it is a bigger picture that has really put this together, so in that sense it is less of an issue.”

  8. Renault plans to give its academy drivers Formula 1 mileage in older-spec cars this season.

    The team unveiled five reserve drivers along with its R31 car at Valencia today, with Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean joining the previously-announced Fairuz Fauzy and retained back-ups Ho-Pin Tung and Jan Charouz.

    Team boss Eric Boullier says he always planned to have a deep roster of drivers this year, and that the Renault academy is intended to prepare these drivers for racing in Formula 1 should the opportunity arise.

    “We didn’t just ask for a blank cheque from everybody, the strategy is clear,” Boullier said. “We want to do the Ferrari academy concept.

    “They are using their third driver, but also the winner of F3 or something, in a two-year-old car. We are allowed to do this.”

    Boullier says former Renault reserve driver Jerome D’Ambrosio is the template for what he wants to achieve with the academy.

    “The idea is based on my experience with D’Ambrosio,” Boullier said. “I tried to fit him inside the team as much as possible – he was driving the car during the WSR [World Series by Renault event demos], during promotion days and city demos.

    “At the end it paid off because when he tested for Virgin, they were very impressed that he could adapt and was capable to give good feedback. He impressed this team when he tested during the rookie days in Abu Dhabi – they were amazed about how the guy could feel in the car. So I decided to go further with the concept and to give kids, if I may say they are kids, some time within an F1 team.”

    He added that each of the reserve drivers will have a chance to prove themselves worthy of a race seat through the academy.

    “We will be using a two-year-old car to do some driver development,” he said. “It is a full assessment programme for some of them. For others, like Bruno, it is to keep close to F1. It is also to convince us that some kids are ready for F1, because they will be the next ones for the future and I want them to be ready.”

    Boullier also revealed that Senna is first in line to stand in for one of the race drivers if required, while Grosjean’s priority this year is GP2.

    “I will give [it to] the one who is ready, and Bruno is the most ready driver,” he said. “Romain, there is more a strategy to put back a French driver – it is part of the plan – but he has to commit to things beforehand, and GP2 is one.”


  9. The Renault outfit has spent a long time developing the R31 and it believes the time used in R&D will improve its performance and hopefully back to winning ways. has the story.

    Renault believes a long development time for its new car, allied to some radical concepts under the skin, are key factors in boosting its hopes of a return to winning ways in 2011.

    The Enstone-based team unveiled its bold new R31 at Valencia on Monday. It immediately sparked intrigue about secret innovations, especially revolving around a potential radical sitting of the exhaust exits.

    There are suggestions the exhausts could even be coming out towards the front edge of the sidepods – to help blow air through a longer area of the underfloor – although the team has been careful to keep the concept under close wraps for now.

    Renault has drawn short of confirming what radical ideas may or may not be on its car, but technical director James Allison did say clearly on Tuesday that one of the chief targets was to “further develop the concept of using the exhausts to blow the floor.”

    Beyond the innovative concepts, team owner Gerard Lopez has revealed that the team has been working on the R31 for almost 12 months ago.

    “What most people did not know, and we can say it now, is that we had an overly aggressive development programme because we started development of the R31 in February last year,” explained Lopez at the launch of the team’s new car.

    “People were working unbelievable hours at the factory. The basis of this year’s car we believe is much faster than last year, as a benchmark.

    “If we can keep up with the same development rate as last year then we can move up a nut. And, if last year we did a couple of podiums, in theory this year we should be able to fight for some wins.”

    Lopez says that there is very little carry over between last year’s R30 and the new challenger, which will be tested for the first time by Vitaly Petrov at Valencia on Tuesday.

    “What is really interesting with this car is that because it traces back to such an, in F1 terms, eternity, it literally has nothing to do with last year’s car,” he said. “They were two completely different development programmes, and this car, outside of the engine; it is 92 per cent of different parts. It is literally a completely different car.”

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