Renault Sport Formula One Team’s 2016 challenger, the R.S.16, completed its first-ever laps today. Briton Jolyon Palmer gave the R.S.16 its debut at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona at 09:00hrs CET, marking the first laps for an all-Renault Formula 1 car in over six years.

Bearing its interim livery of black and yellow, the R.S.16 has been designed at the team’s base in Enstone, UK. It is powered by the Renault R.E.16 power unit developed at the heart of Renault’s engine operations in Viry-Châtillon, France.

Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport Racing Managing Director
It’s a great emotion to see the R.S.16 taking to the track and continuing the long line of Renault Formula 1 cars that dates back to 1977 and the RS01.

In some respects, it feels like the debut of this car has been a long time coming! It has however happened very quickly in technical time. Enstone and Viry immediately embraced working together, establishing open and honest lines of communication and the fact that the car is here, making its first laps of Barcelona, is a testament to how well the relationship is functioning.

The drivers have likewise been working very hard in the simulator to acclimatise to the new car and way of working, which will be very different this year without the pitwall-car communication.

We’re under no illusions about results this year. But we will demonstrate that we take this project very seriously and create the culture and the ambitions to lay healthy foundations for the coming seasons.

Nick Chester, Renault Sport Formula One Team Chassis Technical Director
The R.S.16 builds on Enstone’s previous cars, but naturally we have had to significantly change aspects of the car to house the Renault power unit, the R.E.16. The major changes are at the back of the chassis, particularly how we have laid out the cooling system. The rest of the car is more of an evolution. We had a reasonable baseline last year and have taken the concepts further without necessarily changing the fundamental principles. On the aero side, for example, we have kept the characteristics that gave the drivers a stable platform and added overall downforce to give greater grip.

Keeping an evolution of the 2015 concept has been aided by the fact there haven’t been too many changes on the regulations side. We have had to increase the thickness of the cockpit fins for driver safety to be able to withstand higher loadings and there is now mandatory outlets for both the wastegate pipe and tailgate pipe, but these aside, we’ve not had too much else that has made us change the layout.

The sporting side has been a little bit more tricky. From this year onwards, communication with the driver is strictly limited and drivers will have to work out a lot more parameters alone in the cockpit, such as fuel usage, brake balance and tyre wear. We’ve tried to prepare for this by changing the steering wheel layout so the drivers have the information easily. For us too, we need to readjust as over a period of a lot of years we have been very prescriptive towards the driver about issues during a race and how to work with them. Jolyon and Kevin are smart guys, however, and we’ve got a strong simulator programme, which is going well. We will continue this into testing so everyone is comfortable before Australia.

We have a comprehensive development plan over season: our aero programme is ongoing and we’ll be trying to bring bodywork updates to put even more downforce on the car. In parallel we also have a suspension programme to bring mechanical updates, with sizeable upgrades scheduled for the first test after Barcelona. Other than that we aim to have a normal winter testing programme, putting the mileage on the car and parts and building confidence in all systems.

Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport Formula One Team Engine Technical Director
2016 is a real opportunity for all at Renault. It is a chance to put the lessons of 2015 into positive use and create solid foundations within Viry and Enstone. We have already taken some good steps forward in the short time we have been working together. Integrating the power unit to the chassis was a huge task but it’s a testament to the good will on both sides that we were able to adapt both PU and chassis so well that the first fire-up happened without issue, which wasn’t a given at all with such a tight timeline.

Like the chassis, the PU we use this year is a continuation of the work we started last year with some concepts taken further. We have made some changes to the combustion chamber, turbo and electronics to give more power, without sacrificing reliability. So far the tests in the dynos have been promising and we are looking forward to getting some driver feedback once it’s been on track.

We’re feeling positive about testing. The aim is to hit all the usual milestones – mileage, systems checks and validate the dyno findings. It’s also been a pleasure to work once again with our colleagues from Enstone and we look forward to going trackside with them again.