Confusion reigns in Spain as Renault (and Sauber) launch
Who’d have thought launching an F1 car could be so confusing? 45 minutes after Renault launched their “new” car, there is still confusion, with talk that the car unveiled by Robert Kubica, new recruit Vitaly Petrov and Eric Boullier isn’t actually the R30. At the very least, it is not a definitive version – the rear wing is last year’s and it seems that the front end of the car is also from the R29. Studio shots do suggest that this is the new car, with a smaller air intake above the driver’s head, but you have to look hard to try and find any differences between the R29 and the launch version of the R30. Although some are reporting that it is merely just a show car and the real one is hiding in the garage, what is most likely is that they’re hiding the wings, which could be something more radical – tech specialist Craig Scarborough reckons that they’re hiding “Brawn-influenced front suspension with a low steering rack”
The new yellow and black colour scheme was first applied to an F1 car in 2007 but only as a 30th anniversary publicity stunt, never appearing on track – it harks back. It was leaked earlier this week. Yellow and black is an iconic combination, appearing on the original Renault team’s cars, as well as on Minardis for many years and on the Benson and Hedges-sponsored Jordans. It is certainly striking and will definitely stand out on the grid this year, a vast improvement over the messy ING schemes.
As for Petrov, it is good to see him getting a shot. He may be pay driver (and one that’s bringing quite a lot of sponsorship, at that – 15m Euros is one quoted figure) but he’s a decent driver – 2nd in GP2 last year is nothing to sniff at. But the deal has clearly been done last minute – he didn’t even have his name on his overalls at the launch!
Also launching today in Valencia were BMW Sauber, with their new Ferrari-powered (!) C29. The car, with another high, wide nose and tidy overall package, featured no large sponsor stickers, with the livery being a simple scheme in the pattern of the BMW liveries but with black instead of blue. Kamui Kobayashi and Pedro de la Rosa appeared in completely blank white overalls. It is very reminiscent of Brawn last year, emerging from the remains of manufacturer team with no sponsors adorning the car. It is great to see – harking back to days before sponsorship arrived. As for the team, the whole mish-mash way it has come about, with Peter Sauber insisting that BMW will remain as part of the team name due to Concorde Agreement trouble, and a classic midfield team driver line-up, has already made it one of my favourite teams. I hope they can punch above their weight this year – with BMW funding the development of the car this year and the team’s past record, there’s no reason why they cannot.