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Renault Sport managing director Cyril Abiteboul said on 1 March that the French carmaker knows what it takes to be successful as they return to the Formula 1 starting grid as a constructor. Renault bought back Lotus F1, which they had sold at the end of 2009 after winning championships with Spaniard Fernando Alonso in 2005 and 2006, last December. They will now compete under the Renault Sport Formula One name, with Renault branding prominent, along with that of the Infiniti luxury marque, which is part of the Renault-Nissan alliance.
"We know the game, we know the players, we know what it will take to be successful, first. Secondly, the most difficult thing in Formula One is to build performance engines, and that's what we continue to do, so therefore it's not a big difficulty," Abiteboul said at the Geneva Motor Show.
Renault has supplied engines to Red Bull since 2007, helping the team win four drivers' and constructors' titles between 2010 and 2013. However, relations frayed badly last year as their engine proved underpowered compared to champions Mercedes and Ferrari. Renault are still providing Red Bull with engines that now carry Tag Heuer branding.
"It's difficult to get recognition when you are an engine supplier. A lot of people say that when you win, it's thanks to the chassis and when you lose, it's because of the engine. It's a bit exaggerated but there's a bit of that. Plus, Red Bull is a fantastic brand, a very strong brand, they are used to controlling everything. So that's also one of the things that we did by deciding to go back as a team, we wanted to control our brand, our communication, our strategy," said Abiteboul.
Renault announced the Formula One comeback of Danish driver Kevin Magnussen who will partner British rookie Jolyon Palmer, whose signing was announced last year by the team when they were racing as Lotus F1. Magnussen, whose F1 career appeared to have stalled after he spent last year on the sidelines and then got cast aside by McLaren, has replaced Pastor Maldonado after the Venezuelan's funding dried up.
Palmer was the 2014 champion in the GP2 feeder series and a regular in Friday practice as reserve driver last season, but Renault will still have one of the sport's least-experienced line-ups when the season starts in Australia on 20 March.
"Well Palmer was in contract with the team that we decided to acquire, so it was only fair to give the chance to Jolyon and we think he deserves that chance. He's been winning GP2 two years ago, so he knows the road to success. Kevin Magnussen was an opportunity that was a bit unexpected but it was a no-brainer when we had to decide on a driver...to go for Kevin Magnussen. Kevin has been very successful. He won the World Series by Renault 3.5 in 2013, so he's another young bloke with some experience but also plenty of potential and plenty of future," said Abiteboul.