Renault took the wraps off its future vision for Formula 1 at the 2017 Auto China show in Shanghai, commemorating the French carmaker’s 40 years of experience in F1 racing. The RS 2027 Vision concept racecar, named after the company’s Renaultsport division, is said to embody the company’s vision of F1 racing in the year 2027, when the French carmaker will celebrate its 50th anniversary in F1.
Unlike the recently revealed autonomous Roborace car designed by Daniel Simon, Renault anticipates F1 racing will become more attractive, safer, and more environmentally responsible while still featuring gas engines and human drivers. As such, Renault’s RS 2027 Vision concept proposes a more human-centric championship, with drivers at the heart of the sport.
“The melding of creative energy and technical expertise from Renault’s design teams and Renault Sport Racing has created a visionary yet completely credible and authentic RS 2027 Vision,” says Stéphane Janin, Renault’s director of concept car design. “[It is] a Formula 1 exercise that puts people at the heart of the sport, and communicates Renault’s view of the F1 future.”
Designed by a team consisting of Yann Jarsalle, Victor Sfiazof, Emmanuel Klissarov and Anton Shamenkov, the RS 2027 Vision is instantly recognizable as an F1 single-seater, with its long, slender nose, side pods and four open wheels. But that’s where the similarities end. The new Vision car features a more attractive, streamlined and aggressive, 3D printed body and an aerodynamic polycarbonate canopy — which is ultra-resistant to impact and flames — to protect the driver.
The RS 2027 Vision also incorporates some innovative features designed to create more interaction between the cars and a greater connection with spectators. A lightweight, 3D printed shell and transparent cockpit tailored to the driver’s body enables the best-ever view of the driver at work, while a transparent helmet allows fans to see the driver’s face and expressions.
Active aerodynamic elements and lighting systems – in a C-shape as in Renault’s road cars – also make the cars more ‘communicative’ while simultaneously optimizing performance and energy efficiency, and a dynamic LED screen concept within the wheels enables spectators to see information — such as the driver’s position and the car’s remaining energy reserves — directly displayed on the moving car, making it easier for spectators in the stands as well as those watching on television to become more actively involved in the race.
Within the cockpit, a digital display in the center of the steering wheel informs the driver of his ‘fan ranking’ position, which is determined by spectators’ interaction on social media, rewarding the most deserving driver on the track with an additional boost of power in the last laps. Some of the driver’s telemetry data is accessible to fans via the Internet, enhancing their overall understanding of the race and the team’s strategy.
The RS 2027 Vision does feature some autonomous driving functions, however. Designed to make the cars safer, the delegation of driving duties is automatically activated in the event of an incident on the track. If a safety car, virtual safety car, or yellow flags have been waved, the car automatically engaged autonomous mode to drive itself in mandatory single-file and restrictive situations, such as a ban on overtaking or enforced speed limits, which minimizes risk of accidents.
Renault’s future F1 cars will also include vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication — so that every driver knows exactly where each of their competitors is on the track or in the pit-lane — as well as vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication, with peripheral systems on the steering wheel’s digital screen, including the immediate display of instructions given by the race director, such as yellow or blue flags.
In the future, Formula 1 will become a more environmentally respectful form of racing, Renault predicts. Along with a greater emphasis on higher performance, the RS 2027 also incorporates a number of technological advances, such as its smaller fuel tank and electric drivetrain, which enables the car to be driven in electric mode during formation lap and when entering and exiting the pit lane.
The RS 2027 Vision’s high-energy density batteries, two times the current F1 batteries are connected to an ultra-high-performance dual-energy recovery system. Thanks to two 250kW electric motors (one at the front, one at the rear), the bulk of the energy otherwise wasted under braking can be recovered and stored for later use during the same lap. The racecar also gets four-wheel-drive and four-wheel steering.
Renault also anticipates that the increased use of 3D printing will enable individual parts to be made from recycled materials, replacing many composite parts and allowing them to be produced faster and with less tooling.
“One role of Renault Sport Racing is to anticipate the future of Formula 1 so that it draws a maximum number of fans in an environment consistent with Groupe Renault’s objectives,” says Cyril Abiteboul, managing director of Renault Sport Racing. “We look forward to generating inspired conversations with the racing community, fans and enthusiasts through this concept that highlights our ideas and desires.”
With the RS 2027 Vision concept, Renault is cementing its commitment to Formula 1 racing, and signaling its intent to remain a key player in the sport for at least another ten years. Over the course of these ten years, motorsport-honed innovations will continue to be carried over to the brand’s passenger vehicles. It’s a win-win for all enthusiasts.