Monday, April 04, 2005


(Info taken from F1Racing)

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Many must be surprised by the results thus far. Renault suddenly emerged out of no where to dominate the first three grand prix. After watching yesterday's grand prix, I think it's time to give an early warning to Ferrari. Is it time Formula 1 starts to get exciting after few years of Ferrari dominance? The new rules truly bring out a big impact to the whole sport this season. Whether it is good to the sport, everybody will argue.

Fisichella won the Australian Grand Prix, Alonso won Malaysian Grand Prix and yesterday's Bahrain Grand Prix. Ferrari had planned to debut the F2005 in Spain in May, the fifth round of the season, after starting with a modified version of the title-winning F2004 that triumphed in 15 of 18 races last year. However, they were forced to debut it in Bahrain but it seems that they still need more time to make the car far more reliable.

If you look at the past champions of Formula 1, you won't be surprised with the Renault ability now. The roots of the current Renault team can be traced back to the Benetton team of the late 1980s and 1990s, and the Toleman team of the early 1980s.

Renault acquired the Benetton team in 2000 with the plan of entering a works Renault team in Formula One in 2002. The final years of Benetton were nothing to behold and a grand departure from their championship winning performances of 1994 and 1995. When Renault stopped supplying engines at the end of 1997 the team lost out and fell towards the back of the grid. Formed from the old Toleman team in 1986 Benetton had previously been Formula 1 sponsors but decided to run their own team.

Benetton boasted BMW power at first that propelled them towards the sharp end of the grid. A then young Gerhard Berger turbo-ed to victory in the Mexican Grand Prix giving the Italian team their first win. The team was ever present and ready to pick up on the misfortunes of Williams, McLaren and Ferrari. Tom Walkinshaw and Flavio Briatore emerged at the team in 1989 to inspire it to greater heights. Brazilian Nelson Piquet joined the team, as did a new young rookie by the name of Michael Schumacher - who was plucked from the seat of Jordan mid-season 1991.

From 1991 to 1997, Benetton never finished beyond the top three constructors in the championship. Schumacher showed his winning ways first at Spa in 1992. The German would be the man to steer the team to consecutive drivers championships in 1994 and 1995 as well as Benetton's only constructors' title in 1995. In that one year Schumacher and team mate Johnny Herbert took a massive 11 Grand Prix wins between them - 9 to Schumacher 2 to Herbert.

Schumacher went to fellow Italian team Ferrari in 1996 with Ferrari boys Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger taking up seats at Benetton - yet again as team mates. Both came close to wins that year, but missed out. In 1997 Berger would set the record straight by recording a win for Benetton at Hockenheim.

David Richards joined as team principal following Flavio Briatore's departure with the departure of Renault as an engine supplier from the sport but after a turbulent reign, Richard's left and some key engineers also followed, Renault took over officially in 2002 and propelled the team forward.

Their first Grand Prix victory came in a highly impressive 2003 season in which Fernando Alonso took the honours at the Hungarian Grand Prix. It seems like a promising season ahead for Renault. How far they can go is still too early to predict. Surely, it was a very good and promising start and Ferrari should be worried now!


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