Renault F1 at 40


Forty years ago Renault made its Formula 1 bow at the British Grand Prix with Jean-Pierre Jabouille, bringing with it turbo power.

The team is celebrating the milestone throughout this year with a series of videos, and the French marque fittingly took over a garage in the ‘heritage’ pits at Silverstone during last weekend’s British Grand Prix for a special display.

Rene Arnoux was on hand, too, to unveil a commemorative teapot that’s due to be sold – for a mere €129! – in homage to the RS01’s nickname.

Watch the videos below, and if you weren’t able to see the British Grand Prix display, take a look through the photos from Silverstone.

They blew it!

Renault pioneered turbos in F1 and this brave move should have reaped dividends. Instead, these fell to the latecomers. Mark Hughes tells a story of… frustration…

Jean-Pierre Jabouille took up his pole position slot at Dijon 1979. The sun glinted off the bright yellow bodywork, and as he looked in his mirrors he saw the heat haze rising from the burbling V6, that crazy engine that was about to change the face of racing. He was in the ‘zone’, experiencing that perfect feeling of invincibility only ever granted a favoured handful of sportsmen.

“I looked in the eyes of those around me,” he says, “people from the team and from Elf. All I saw was pressure, worry. But I didn’t feel any of that, I was at a different place. I knew I couldn’t lose.”

He still knew, even as Gilles Villeneuve took advantage of his normally-aspirated Ferrari’s better response off the line and led the Renault away. He knew even as Gilles led the first half of the race. When the moment came, on lap 46, Jabouille’s move at the end of the pit straight was clinical. As was his subsequent devastating sequence of laps that convinced even Villeneuve his cause was lost. At the flag the turbo Renault was 15sec clear of the epic Villeneuve/Arnoux battle for second.

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