Renault Hopes to Challenge Formula 1’s ‘Holy Trinity’ With New R.S.19 Racer
Renault doesn’t necessarily expect podium performance, but it wants to see improvement from its fourth-place championship finish in 2018.
Renault Sport F1 has launched its 2019 Formula 1 car, the R.S.19.
It bears a similar livery to the team's 2018 car, the R.S.18, which permitted a fourth-place finish in the World Constructors' Championship (WCC), up from sixth in 2017. As with all 2019-spec cars, larger, simpler wings make the R.S.19 easy to differentiate from its predecessor, and could make close racing easier this season.
Former Renault racing director Jerome Stoll stated in late 2018 that the team's goal for 2019 will be to achieve a podium, though the team's managing director Cyril Abiteboul backed down on that target at the car's reveal.
"We go into this season aiming to keep this strong and measured momentum," stated Abiteboul. "We do not target X or Y position or a number of points: what I want to see is that the team continues its positive trajectory. "
The trajectory Abiteboul describes is an upward one; Renault climbed from ninth in 2016 to sixth in 2017, then fourth in 2018. Renault has yet to attain a podium with this iteration of its team, but that or an improvement to its WCC result (Renault finished with fewer than a third as many points as third-placed Red Bull did in 2018) could meet Abiteboul's criteria for a successful campaign.
Success this season will likely mean something different to each of Renault's drivers, which include Nico Hülkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo. Hülkenberg holds the record for the most race starts without a podium finish, and would likely be satisfied if he achieves one in 2019. Ricciardo gave up a desirable seat at Red Bull, gambling that Renault could be better for his career than a Max Verstappen-favoring, Honda-powered Red Bull.
The Renault R.S.19 will be first seen in action on Feb. 18, when winter testing begins at the site of the Spanish Grand Prix: Circuit de Catalunya, in Barcelona.