Renault have launched their 2020 F1 campaign in Paris, teasing pictures of the new R.S.20 in a special testing livery, as their fresh driver pairing of Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon were presented to the world in team colours for the first time.
The launch also featured Renault’s new Chassis Technical Director Pat Fry, who joins the team after a long and successful career at the likes of Ferrari and McLaren, as well as Guanyu Zhou, the Chinese F2 racer, who’s been promoted to the role of test driver with the team for 2020.
Ahead of the ceremony, Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul revealed that Renault’s key focus for 2020 was to “regain confidence”, after the team slipped from fourth in the 2018 constructors’ standings to fifth in 2019, behind McLaren.
We need to regain confidence and reinforce team spirit to get the best from everyone
“Taking back fourth position in the constructors’ championship remains the objective over a season that will be more hotly-contested than ever,” he said.
“For the coming season, we must respect the three priorities identified during the off-season: reliability from the get-go; ensure a high level of development very early in the season and have a good conversion rate on track. However, we also need to regain confidence and reinforce team spirit to get the best from everyone, and to maximise our chances each race weekend.”
Helping them to do that will be Renault’s hot new driver line-up of Ricciardo and Ocon, who replaces Nico Hulkenberg at the team for 2020. And the Frenchman revealed that he was delighted to be back in front-line F1, having lost his seat at Racing Point Force India at the end of 2018, leaving him to spend 2019 as Mercedes’ third and reserve driver.
“It’s very exciting and I can’t wait to test the new car in Barcelona,” said Ocon. “We’ve had a lot of time to prepare, and I’m feeling ready for the challenge. I’m really looking forward to racing again – back where I want to be – after waiting for a year.
“There are a lot of new items on this year’s car and the guys have been working hard to find some additional performance,” Ocon added. “It’s all about details in Formula 1 and I’ve seen quite a lot of details on the Renault R.S.20. It’s exciting to see the design but the next thing you want is to be behind the wheel and feeling what it’s like.”
Ricciardo, meanwhile, was looking to build a closer bond with the team around him in his second year with Renault since joining from Red Bull, having finished ninth in the drivers’ standings in 2019.
“I’m looking forward to blending into the team better on the back of having a full season behind us,” he said. “Things are going to be easier in that sense. I learnt a lot about myself and obviously a lot about the team [in 2019]. One of the most important learnings for me was that it’s not just about having the smartest guy in the Formula 1 paddock – you need every individual across the team getting the most out of themselves.
“With the people I work closest with, it’s about trying to find a way they work best, trying to help them be their best selves, and then also figuring out where I can perform the best on the day.”
The R.S.20 is due to hit the track for the first time on February 19, when 2020 pre-season testing begins at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain.