The Renault F1 Team's Engine Technical Director reviews the 2006 season.
Rob, where were you for the final race of the 2006 season?
Rob White: I was in Renault's Square Com' building in Boulogne, Paris. There were team members from Viry, from Renault and the F1 fan club too. It goes without saying that the atmosphere was wonderful. It was a long, stressful race but we what we wanted at the end. That was a fantastic moment. We proved that Renault F1 Team is a true top team, that knows how to stay focused and motivated under pressure.
Both cars proved reliable: the E and D5 specifications lasted the distance…
RW: Yes, and that was particularly satisfying. We took an unusual decision to use two different engines and it worked out well. In general terms, we can be very happy with our season in 2006. It was the first season of V8 engines, and overall, our rivals seemed to suffer many more problems than we did.
The RS26 ran well immediately…
RW: I think it's main qualities are a direct consequence of the steps we took during the engine's design process. With the project manager Léon Taillieu, we spent a huge amount of time defining the concepts of the engine, understanding its technical challenges – and assessing its impact in terms of our resources. We worked very hard on the dyno during the winter, and our communication with the chassis team in Enstone was exemplary. Our engine was not the first to run on track – and we were widely criticised for it – but it was the first V8 to win a race in 2006. That was exactly what we wanted.
Was the solitary failure in Monza another proof that reliability can never be taken for granted?
RW: Exactly that. You never stop striving for reliability, and the secret of success is constant vigilance. However, it is wrong to focus solely on being reliable, even at the end of the season. An engine must performance to the maximum too, and the trade-off between these two independent parameters is what we are seeking to improve every day. Our strength was that we found the best compromise.