Piquet completes Renault R29s maiden test 19 Jan 2009
Renault officially launched its 2009 season on Monday as the new R29 was unveiled to the world's media at the Algarve Motor Park near Portimao in the south of Portugal. Both the team's race drivers, Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet, were on hand in the morning to take the covers off their new challenger as they joined Managing Director Flavio Briatore for a photo call with the R29 in front of the team's pit garage.
They were joined by young Frenchman, Romain Grosjean, who was announced as the team's third driver for 2009, and the latest recruits from Renault's Driver Development Programme: Davide Valsecchi from Italy, Charles Pic from France and Marco Sorensen from Denmark.
With radical revisions to the sport's technical regulations introduced this year, the R29 incorporates a new design philosophy and looks very different from its predecessor. Great attention has been paid to maximizing the new rules and the team is optimistic about its chances for the year ahead.
"We began our preparations for the R29 project early and I am proud of what the team has achieved, explained Briatore. There are lots of new things to deal with this year, which could shake things up, but we intend to continue fighting at the front. We will now concentrate on our final preparations for the start of the season so that we can arrive in Australia hopefully fighting for the podium."
Both Alonso and Piquet were delighted to get their hands on the R29 so early in the year. Having followed the car's progress closely over the winter, they paid tribute to the work done by the staff in the factories in Enstone and Viry.
"The team has had a very busy development programme to allow us to be ready for the first January test with the new car," said Alonso. "Now we are all looking forward to seeing the result of all that effort on the racetrack."
After the photo call, the R29 made its track debut as Piquet kicked off the team's winter development programme at the Algarve Motor Park. "It feels great to be in the R29, even though the weather was not great," said the Brazilian afterwards.
"Today was all about adding miles to the car, collecting data and learning as much as we could. Hopefully the rest of the week will allow us to build on the progress we have made today."
Renault will remain in the Algarve until Thursday to continue with their testing programme. Piquet will be in the R29 for a second day on Tuesday before handing it over to Alonso for the final two days.