18S111 Renault RS01 No.15 British GP 1977 – Jean-Pierre Jabouille
There have been many debuts in Formula 1 that have been laughed about. The one of Renault with the turbo engine 1977 in Silverstone was one of it. The car was called “yellow teapot”. In a nod to the many engine failures which were normally announced with a large plume of smoke. The base of the engine was a V6 which had been designed in 1972 by a team of only eight people. This engine was known as the CH-Series. Following Claude Haardt, former President of Renault-Gordini. It was first used in May 1973 in the Alpine A440 of Jean-Pierre Jabouille. The following year Alain Serpaggi won the 2-liter European sportscar championship. From 1975 the engine was “charged”. And should have started in the sportscar worldchampionship. But the success remained modest. In 1976 Renault equipped its Formula 2 cars with their CH1B V6. This time with an aspirated engine. Jabouille, René Arnoux and Michèle Leclère dominated the season, winning seven out of twelve races. Already in February 1975 oil partner elf ordered two 1.5-liter turbos at Renault-Gordini. In view of a prospective debut in the Formula 1 World Championship. On July 15th 1976 the board gave the go-ahead for the Formula One program. Almost one year later Renault made its debut at the British Grand Prix in Silverstone. And as mentioned earlier the other teams smiled about it. In fact the first turbo engine in Formula One was not a high flyer. Turbo lag and overheating issues dominated early testing and its debut at Silverstone. Renault decided to skip the races in Germany and Austria. When the French returned to Zandvoort the engine had larger inlet manifolds and a new exhaust system. Jabouille surprised everybody by qualifying tenth. But in the race the suspension broke. Also in Italy (broken engine) and Watkins Glen (alternator trouble) Jabouille had to withdraw from the races. And after he didn’t qualify in Canada due to another engine failure Renault decided to abandon the oversea final in Japan. So beginning was hard. But nonetheless Renault has made history with the RS01. And the French developed the V6 not only into a winning engine. It was also the start of a new era. Because soon the other teams also began to develop their own turbo charged engine. Spark has reduced the “yellow teapot” in 1:18. With many details. Especially if you have a closer look at the engine which was – at that time – an open secret for everybody.