The French manufacturer, who revealed their new machine in an online presentation, finished sixth in the constructors’ standings last term – three places higher than in 2016.
Drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz are hoping for further progress this year, though they’re expected to face tough competition from Renault’s customer teams Red Bull and McLaren, who will use the same specification power unit as the works team.
Progression and refinement
Developed jointly between Enstone, UK (chassis) and Viry-Chatillon, France (power unit), the R.S.18 is Renault's third chassis since its return to Formula 1 as a full works’ entry in 2016. According to the team the car is a progression and refinement of the concepts developed during the 2017 season, including an improved suspension concept and greater aerodynamic downforce.
As well as a dynamic new paintjob, the R.S.18 also features the mandatory new-for-2018 halo cockpit protection and re-profiled engine cover to comply with the 2018 technical regulations.
Speaking after images of the new car were revealed, Renault Sport Racing President Jérôme Stoll said: “Renault Sport Formula One Team’s ambition is clearly to uphold the outstanding record of the past and the 2017 season has confirmed we are on the right track. We are a team on the rise. We have two very talented drivers who are hungry for results. Enstone is regenerated and the workforce has already increased by more than 35%. Our investment has so far been successfully translated to the track as we rose from ninth to sixth in the Constructors’ Championship in 2017 and ended the year with the fourth fastest car."
“The success of the programme in just two years is testament to the resilient plan laid down early in the creation of the team and the strong job done by Cyril and the entire Renault Sport Racing teams. I am convinced year three will take us one step closer to the long-term aim: winning races and challenging for championships.”
"We have everything to be positive"
Stoll's words were echoed by Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport Racing's managing director: “Last year was successful in many ways. It was the second year in our rebuilding and a further step towards our long-term plans and aims.
"2016 was all about recruiting, investing, bringing in new sponsors, new talents and building our brand. Over the past year I’ve seen progression in many areas: ninth to sixth in the standings – in many races we were often the fourth fastest team on the grid. This is a testament to our drive, commitment and adherence to a very ambitious plan. It was a quantified progression towards what we want to become and challenging the top teams.
“We have everything to be positive about this year. We have two very talented and ambitious drivers. Last year Nico gave us exactly what we needed with his experience, knowledge and ability to lead both on and off track. Carlos joined us at the end of the season and he brought something fresh, and he scored points to help us in the Constructors’ battle. Without that we wouldn’t have finished where we finished.
“Our headline target is to show continued progression through results. We want to be able to showcase our progression in every regard; power unit, chassis, operations, drivers. Everything must improve and we must continue to grow. We want to demonstrate this in many different ways, from the teams we will be directly racing against, to the gap to the leaders, including also our fan base and the respect that our team will inspire in our way we behave on and off track.”
Drivers keen to get going
The R.S.18 will be given its track debut when pre-season testing gets underway in Barcelona next week, with both Hulkenberg and Sainz keen to see if it can take the team to the next level.
“When I have visited Enstone and seen everything going on with the development of the R.S.18 I’m very enthused about the season ahead,” said Hulkenberg. “Add that to the news from Viry about the development of the power unit and everything looks and sounds good; it’s all positive and there are exciting times ahead. I’m feeling positive and optimistic in myself.
"We’re in a good position. For this year we want to build on the good platform of last season. 2017 was about bedding in, now I want to get ready to go. I get a good feeling, we have put the work in over the winter and hard work usually pays off. I’m eager to get out there. Put me in the car.”
“The general approach is to work harder every day to continue on a positive trend," added Sainz. "For sure the main target is to take a step forward, both me as a driver and the whole team. It’s difficult to predict how big that step will be, however, I’m confident as I have been pushing hard during the winter and I know everyone at the factory is giving their very best. I´m convinced this is going to be an exciting season.”
Joining Hulkenberg and Sainz in a revised four-man roster are F2 racers Jack Aitken and Artem Markelov, who will act third and reserve driver and test and development driver respectively. Both are expected to receive testing opportunities over the course of the season.