Renault’s chief operating officer Carlos Tavares visited the Buddh International Circuit during the Indian Grand Prix. We caught up
What are your thoughts on the double titles won this year with Red Bull Racing ? The second consecutive constructors’ title for Red Bull Racing-Renault – the tenth title for Renault in F1 – and the drivers’ title for Sebastian Vettel ?
Obviously it’s a great feeling of satisfaction for the teams, both for Red Bull and Renault Sport F1. It really is a remarkable performance ; the tenth for Renault in our 34 years of competition in F1. Ten titles in 34 years, I think that shows the expertise and the excellent job that has been done. I’d like to give my heartfelt and respectful thanks as I know the amount of work involved in achieving this performance. I went to Viry-Châtillon [where Renault Sport F1 is based] to thank all the employees there and what struck me beyond the talent, the expertise and the competency of the workers there was their humility. And also their capacity to deliver huge results with a very humble attitude : that is the mark of champions. In this way RSF1 represents for the whole of Renault a perfect example of what we can become.
From the start of your association with Red Bull ; the notion was for this to be a partnership and not the typical client relationship. Is this part of Renault’s philosophy ?
It is very important and fits perfectly into the DNA of Renault. The ability to work in a world with companies that have different ways of working and cultures is becoming a great advantage. Effectively, the teams at Viry have shown an ability to understand, and an ability to not simply provide an engine to a client. They work to give an engine that allows the partner to build an extremely competitive chassis. This ability to work together, which is very much in the spirit of Renault within the framework of the Nissan alliance, is how we worked with Daimler – it’s one of the strong points of the company. This open spirit and mental flexibility has allowed us to learn and to contribute to the performance of our partners. We work in this spirit with Red Bull but not only just with them, we adopt the same attitude with our other partners. We have understood that the engine is not just a power unit that consumes fuel, its packaging and architecture can allow a chassis designer to express his ideas, notably to optimise the aerodynamics of the car.
Renault’s future in F1 is looking bright, with four teams from 2012. Talk to us about the short term future.
There are two key points ; first of all, there can’t be a big brand or company without a big history. Therefore, our partnership with Williams is an emotional connection. It is one of the smaller teams on the grid and Sir Frank Williams is looking to bring it back to the top of the field. We have a huge amount of sentimentality to help Williams reach this aim and we will bring everything that the Renault brand stands for to reinforce our partnerships. It is a very important point and I feel this discussing it with the guys at Renault Sport F1 ; there is a great deal of affection for this team. I should say as well that we have a great pride in partnering four teams next year, but I’d like to stress two things ; firstly that value diversity and we learn a lot through this diversity. We don’t take a monopolistic view towards supplying engines in F1. This is for a very simple reason ; if we were the only engine supplier, we would have difficulty in showing that we were the best. Therefore we prefer that there are others out there and we enjoy taking the fight to them and winning to show the competiveness and technical excellence of our engineers.
There is a new race on the calendar this season ; the Indian Grand Prix. Is this part of the world important to this industry ?
India is a very important market for Renault. We have reasons to believe that the market will grow enormously in the next ten years, probably becoming one of the top three or four markets in the world. It is a very strategic decision to launch five cars in 15 months ; a relatively short time. We started in June 2011 with the Fluence, we introduced the Koleos last month and at the end of October we presented the third of a group of five cars, with the two others being released in 2012. Five models in 15 months is a very important push in the product and commercial plan. At the same time, we have developed an important industrial unit in Chennai with our partners Nissan that will have a significant capacity. For the moment we have 14 showrooms in this huge country, which is relatively small, but by the end of the year we want to have 40 and probably by the end of next year around 100. This will give us a solid footing on which to build our market presence. An important strategy that starts with an industrial presence guaranteed by the presentation of five new models and the strategic increase of the dealership network. This is one of the reasons why I came to India.
Is Formula 1 a good tool to use in this industrial plan ?
It is an exceptional tool. And I had the proof yesterday as I had the fortune to spend some time with three of our clients. One of our dealers had brought three clients who had bought two Fluences and one Koleos. I spent a lot of time with them to understand what their rationale had been. We have to understand that these two cars – in this market – are practically luxury cars with a corresponding price tag. One of the main arguments was that they had bought the most luxurious car with all the options as Renault was a brand with a strong presence in F1. We can say all the rest ; brand awareness, bringing Renault to emerging markets through TV broadcasts, but we see that people recognise that F1 technology is the top of its game and Renault’s success at this level shows it can have success at every level. This really helps when we discuss pricing power and the position of the brand to guarantee the feasibility of the company in emerging markets.
Source: Renault F1 Sport
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