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Renault hit the comeback trail in Paris 31 Jan 2008

Lucas Di Grassi, Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jr at the Renault R28 launch, Paris, France. January 31 2008. © Renault Renault R28 official launch, Paris, France. January 31 2008. © Renault Lucas Di Grassi, Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jr at the Renault R28 launch, Paris, France. January 31 2008. © Renault Nelson Piquet Jr (BRA), with Flavio Briatore, Renault Managing Director and Fernando Alonso (ESP). Renault R28 official launch, Paris, France. January 31 2008. © Renault The Renault R28 launch, Paris, France. January 31 2008. © Renault

Renault launched their 2008 season on Thursday with an official unveiling ceremony for their new car, the R28, and their revised driver line-up of Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jr. It’s a combination the former champions hope will return them to the sharp end of the grid this year after a disappointing 2007.

All was revealed at Renault’s communication headquarters in Paris in front of 500 guests, including Renault President and CEO Carlos Ghosn and Michel Tilmant, Chairman of the Executive Board of the team’s title sponsors, the ING Group.

Commenting on Renault’s aggressive aims for their 2008 recovery, the team's President Bernard Rey said: "We expect to see the team back in its normal place, fighting at the front of the field. This is the target the team has set for the new car. On the technical side, everybody has worked hard to overcome the problems encountered last year. On the driver front, Fernando Alonso's return was an important boost. There is optimism inside the team and within Renault."

Renault say the R28, which made its track debut at Valencia last week, is a blend of new solutions and proven technology, drawing on the strengths of its predecessor but eliminating its weaknesses. The team have moved to a zero-keel layout for the car's front end, part of a new design philosophy aimed at extracting maximum performance from Bridgestone’s tyres, an area that caused Renault particular concern with the R27 last year.

"We have put the problems from 2007 behind us and in terms of the car design, we have looked at the problem afresh,” said technical director Bob Bell. “The team pushed very hard in all areas, and particularly on the aerodynamics. The front end of the car has come in for special attention with a brand new front wing and the front suspension. The rear end has also been heavily reworked, and we haven't neglected the basics.

“The car ran reliably in its first test, and we made encouraging progress on performance development last week. We are confident that the advances we have seen in the wind tunnel will be reflected on track."

Having won back to back title doubles in 2005 and 2006, Renault finished a distant third in last year's constructors' standings, 153 shy of champions Ferrari.