Under wraps

We’ve been to France. Some of us to the wonderful Retromobile show; another party to photograph the F1 Renault which Fernando Alonso drove in his 2006 title season. That brought up a question of security which would have made Jenks’ beard curl. 

In his time DSJ could fill this magazine with detailed technical facts about current grand prix cars. Of course, teams have always tried to conceal innovations right to the first race, though few would go to the lengths Auto Union did with its new car in 1938. Motor Sport commented that it seemed to have stuck with the previous car’s V16 format, judging by the stub exhausts – until it started up, when smoke issued from only 12 of them. The engineers had added four fake stubs to disguise a new V12. 

Despite any early-season obfuscation, Jenks would eventually be able to photograph most parts of the suspension, engine and gearbox and explain them in the magazine. It wasn’t like that with the Renault R26. Even though this is last year’s car, we were asked not to open up the body panels, and could not photograph the engine. That’s not to criticise Renault, who were extremely helpful over the shoot, and to whom go our thanks; it’s merely a lament for today’s culture of enormous secrecy over minute design elements. Those of us who are more interested by machinery than by drivers’ contracts find that a shame. 

Gordon Cruickshank, Deputy Editor