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Revitalised Renault get ready to launch 30 Jan 2008

Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R28. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Valencia, Spain, Thursday 24 January 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault Formula One Testing, Day Two, Valencia, Spain, Tuesday 22 January 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28. Formula One Testing, Day One, Valencia, Spain, Monday 21 January 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton

With a rookie and a former world champion in their ranks, Renault hope to return to their winning ways in 2008 after their fall from grace last season. Integral to this revival will be the team’s new challenger, the R28, which will be officially unveiled in France on Thursday.

The R28's predecessor struggled to compete with McLaren's and Ferrari’s cars last year and the French squad were left powerless to defend their 2005 and 2006 titles, eventually finishing 150 point adrift of world champions Ferrari in the standings.

Understandably, Renault are looking to make a fresh start in 2008 and climb their way back up the field. Replacing their outgoing line-up of Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen will be Nelson Piquet Jr, who was promoted from a test role to a race seat, and Fernando Alonso, who returns to the team with which he won his ’05 and ’06 driver crowns.

Both Alonso and Piquet Jr have already sampled the R28 on track during last week’s test at the Spanish circuit of Valencia. Over four days they covered more than 300 laps as they carried out an intensive evaluation programme, assessing the car’s strengths and weaknesses.

The duo will be present at Thursday’s launch, which will be held at Renault’s corporate communications headquarters in Paris from 1400 hours local time. Team principal Flavio Briatore and technical director Bob Bell will also be in attendance, answering questions in front of an expected audience of 600 guests.

Once the launch is over, the team will return to Spain to continue testing and are expected back on track on Friday for the start of a three-day session at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.