Honda website
Honda website

JUNE 4, 2001

Renault defends its engine

RENAULT SPORT boss Patrick Faure has hit back over allegations that the French manufacturer has bitten off more than it can chew by making its return to the sport with a radical wide-angle engine.

The Renault V10, which has a 111-degree 'vee' angle as opposed to the more standard 75-90-degree angles adopted by its rivals, has proven a problematic unit so far this year. Intense vibration is believed to mean that the unreliable unit has had to be detuned in order to stand a chance of completing a race - estimates suggest that it is only putting out around 650bhp to the 840bhp that the BMW, Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz units are capable of.

Also the arrival of electronic driver aids has put another wedge between the Renault unit and the rest of the field, as the frail internals cannot cope with the extra load demanded by the software programming to eradicate wheelspin. This has left the Renault-powered Benettons of Jenson Button and Giancarlo Fisichella battling for the final row of the grid, but Faure insists that when the engine is finally sorted it will be the envy of the paddock.

"We didn't expect such a difficult year," said Faure. "But if we had to, we would do it again because we had a choice: either to build a Supertec engine and fight for the third row, but have no chance to overtake McLaren or Ferrari, or to really go for it with a totally new architecture, but accept that we have more difficulty."

The Supertec engine Faure mentioned is Renault's customer unit based on the original series of V10s that won the 1992, 93, 95, 96 and 97 world championships. Any such repeat of that success from the new engine is going to need a gigantic turn-around, but Faure insists that if anyone can do it, Renault can. Faure also denied that any customer units of the wide V10 would be badged as Nissan, although the Japanese brand is under the French marque's control.