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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Renault R28

Renault ran their new car, the R28, at a foggy Valencia circuit for the first time this morning.

After a poor 2007 season, the new car is substantially different in its aerodynamic treatment over the R27 - the front end in particular being innovative, with a new front wing arrangement and a switch to a zero keel front suspension.

The team endured a tough year in 2007 with the transition to Bridgestone tyres and the loss of Fernando Alonso to McLaren. The tyre changes unearthed aerodynamic problems not apparent with the Michelins and the team spent a lot of time early in the season calmly understanding where the problems lie.

Whereas the 2007 car was a clear evolution from the previous championship-winning machine, the new car adopts many new designs and bears only a few recognisable features from its forebear. The whole front end is a new solution, starting with a large nose cone, which sits low over the front wing.

The new nose also forms the mounting for the front wing, the usual vertical plates that mount the front wing are now nearer horizontal mounting the point where the front wing dips into the spoon section. This is a neater solution and makes some use of the mounting plates to manage the flow over the front suspension.

Above the main wing is a bridge wing. Renault have added a small support between the nose and wing, to ensure it doesn't move - perhaps mindful after the problems of 2007 that the wing is consistent and does not move about altering the aero balance.

One big change is the move away from a "V keel" to a Zero Keel set up. This appears to ape Ferrari's design, with the upper wishbone being spaced from the tub to retain ideal suspension geometry. Bargeboards are slightly revised, with the forward vanes being mounted McLaren-like to the tub.

The sidepod treatment is also very different. Last year's car had the pod wing, wing mirror and flip merged together, while this year they are split up - the pod wings are smaller, the mirrors moved to near the cockpit and the flip-ups now start further back and down along the sidepods.
This flip-up is now mounted to a removable panel, suggesting more development is due in this area. While the sidepods themselves have a shape that appears sunken and slimmed towards the rear.

Along with the placement of the chimney and flip-up, the new sidepods appear disconcertingly like Honda's unsuccessful 2007 car. The teardrop-shaped exhaust fairings are retained, with the exhausts sat deep within the covers.

Above the sidepods the engine cover is very low and the upper section is slimmed in typical 2007 fashion, with dimensional strakes to meet the rules concerning minimum width.
At the rear a large outlet duct is formed, presumably to vent the heat from hydraulics, as with the Ferrari F2007. Although the rear end is very narrow, it does appear wider due to the fairing over the rear upper suspension, which is spaced from the gearbox in a similar manner to the front suspension.

Lastly, the diffuser appears similar to that one used in 2007, with the rear brake ducts and suspension arms in similar positions.

As the car is not yet formally launched, there is no word on the cars layout regard wheelbase weight distribution.

No doubt Renault have chosen to put more weight forward to suit the Bridgestones tyres, but how this is achieved will have to wait until the official launch at the end of the month in Paris.

Pictures of Renault R28 (sorry but these are the largest I could find, until I get bigger ones these will be OK)

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