DECEMBER 1, 2006
Thirty years at Viry-Chatillon
Renault F1 celebrates 30 years at Viry-Chatillon this week although the factory actually dates back to 1969 when Amedee Gordini moved his engine operation into the facility after it was taken over by Renault in 1968. From February 1969 the Renault-Gordini company ran its business from the factory but the creation of Renault Sport in September 1976, the result of a merger between Renault-Gordini and the sporting department of Automobiles Alpines, which had previously been located in Dieppe, led to a new era beginning in December 1976. A few weeks after that Renault admitted that it was planning to enter F1 in 1977 with a turbocharged car. This was based on an F1 prototype built on Renault's behalf by Alpine over the winter or 1975-76. The Alpine A500 ran for the first time in March that year and was used to help to develop Michelin F1 tyres.
The first proper Renault F1 car - based on the A500 - appeared in June 1977 and the team made it debut a few weeks later at the French GP with Jean-Pierre Jabouille at the wheel of what would soon become known as the Yellow Teapot because of its colour scheme and its tendency to produce clouds of steam when the engines blew up - which they did on a regular basis. From these humble beginnings Renault grew into a strong force in F1 although the turbo-engined cars never won a World Championship. In the end the factory team was shut down but the Renault Sport engine designers went on to create the Renault V10 which would win a string of World titles in the 1990s and the team at Viry-Chatillon now provide engines for the Renault F1 team, which has won the last two World Championships.
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