Renault was the perrenial engine manufacturer to other racing teams. Over the last decade or so, Renault has emerged as a major force as a racing team and not just an engine manufacturer. In the early 90s, Benetton and Williams, both prospered with Renault engines under their hoods. Going further back, Renault did have a brief stint as a racing team in 1977 where they ran for 8 years, with Prost being their source for glory in 1983, only to have him fall at the last hurdle.
Renault vanished from the Formula One paddocks only to be seen sparingly under the bodywork of cars. Although in those times, Renault may have been physically absent from the scene, but their machinery helped Benetton to two consecutive World Titles as well as helped Williams create a fantastic partnership with Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve.
After sixteen years, Renault were back with a complete car. They had bought the Benetton outfit and gve it their name. The initial years were tough with Jenson Button and Jarno Trulli provinding bits and pieces of success throughout. It took the team just 3 years to establish a level of reliability and performance that older teams yearned for. They had begun to match the pace of the McLarens and the Ferraris and all the while, were much more reliable in surviving the race distances. Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella were the team’s white knights as they got Renault back-to-back constructors’ titles while Alonso beat the retiring Schumcher to two back-to-back drivers’ titles.
Renault continues to supply engines to smaller teams and although 2007 was dominated by Ferrari and McLaren, the return of Fernando Alonso may mean that things will be getting back to the good old days at Renault.