JANUARY 13, 2004
Renault finally gets its "new" engine
Renault F1 has finally got its 2004 V10 engine up and running on the dynos at Viry-Chatillon. If all goes to plan the new engine will be put in a car and will begin track testing on Monday. The RS24 engine is new but lack of time following the decision to cancel the wide-angle V10 engine programme meant that the 2004 engine will be based on the 72-degree V10s used by Renault back before the wide-angled engines appeared. Obviously there have been as many modifications as possible in the time available but with most of the other teams moving towards 90-degree engines, the narrower-angled engine may not have a centre of gravity as low as would be possible with a wider engine. Renault is already working on a 90-degree V10 for 2005, an indication that the 2004 engine is just an interim solution to the problem. The tried and trusted old design is probably going to be more reliable than the newer engines and this might prove to be important with the new one-engine-per-weekend rule but some of the team's aerodynamic advantage from last year is going to be lost as others catch up with the ideas used on the car. Thus the advantage that existed may be smaller and so Renault could struggle to be the fourth best team, particularly as the BAR, Jaguar and Toyota teams are all running on the same tyres and improving rapidly.
The Michelin teams are all hoping that the 2004 Bridgestones are going to be uncompetitive but the Japanese tyre company says it will improve the tyres before the start of the season.
With Fernando Alonso a man much in demand for the future, Renault's progress in 2004 will be watched closely - not just in F1 circles but also by Renault itself.
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