Renault took a break from F1 at the end of the 1997 season but rejoined in 2000 after taking over the Benetton team. Renamed the Renault F1 Team in 2002, its first win was at the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix, then again at the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix. For 2005, new regulations led to the development of the R25 with its innovative front suspension system – a response to the ban on tyre changes – better aerodynamics and an engine that could run in two successive Grand Prix.
Key to the success of the R25 was its reliability and its RS25 V10 three-litre engine, paired with a new on-board electronic system. The engine position was lowered to bring down the centre of gravity in comparison to the R24 model, which had placed third in the previous season to lay a promising foundation for the future.
Significant stiffening of the chassis also helped handling on the R25, along with a reduced weight of only 610 kg thanks in large part to the new electronic control system that allowed for better aerodynamics, weight balance and much faster data processing.
RELIABILITY IS KEY
Alonso and teammate Giancarlo Fisichella won three victories and a third place during the first four races of the 2005 season. Chased closely all year by Ferrari and McLaren, the reliability of the R 25 – and the skills of both Renault drivers – won through. After 19 races, seven victories, eight more places podiums and only two retirements, 24-year-old Fernando Alonso claimed the F1 title.
LIGHT AND POWERFUL
The R25 was fitted with a paddle-operated six-speed semi-automatic gearbox (with one reverse gear). The engine developed 800 bhp, and took the car to a top speed of more than 300 km/hr. Its lightweight chassis was made from aluminum honeycomb composite monocoque and carbon fibre, and its brakes were also carbon fibre all round. With a length of 4.8 m and width of 1.8 m, its wheelbase was 3.1 m.