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The original turbocharged Renault

Jean-Pierre Jabouille driving the RS01, the first turbocharged car in F1 and Renault's first entry in under the banner of Equipe Renault Elf

© F1-Photo.com / Cahier Archive

After our look yesterday at Sean Bull's unofficial design concept for Renault's 2018 entry, we thought we'd go in the other direction today with a look back at how the team started in Formula 1.

Renault's bow came in last five races of the 1977 world championship under the name Equipe Renault Elf. They had just one driver taking part, with Jean-Pierre Jabouille at the wheel of the RS01.

It was the first F1 car powered by a turbocharged engine, the Gordini V6 Turbo. It was also the first to use radial tyres provided by Michelin. Unfortunately the RS01 was cumbersome and overweight; moreover it was chronically unreliable and failed to finish any races that year. It became something of a running joke and was even dubbed the "Yellow Teapot".

The following year seemed to be going no better, with nine more retirements in the first 12 races. But the car's first classified finish finally came at Monaco when Jabouille crossed the line in tenth.

After much development - including introducing a second tuborcharger to reduce lag - finally there was a break through. Jabouille finished in fourth place in the United States at Watkins Glen in the penultimate race of 1978.

The RS01 was still in use at the start of the 1979 season. Jabouille even clinched pole position for the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami, in part due to the thinner air at high altitude which favoured the turbos.

By now the team had expanded to a two-car operation. Jabouille had been joined by René Arnoux, and by mid-season the RS01 had been retired and replaced by a new ground-effect car, the RS10.

It seemed that the painful lessons of the RS01 had been learned. In qualifying for Renault's home race in Dijon the pair beat Ferrari to lock out the front row of the grid, and Jabouille claimed the victory (below).

Jabouille won again in 1980, with victory at Austria in the new RE20. However injuries sustained in the Canadian Grand Prix forced him to retire from driving. That was shortly after he joined Ligier, where he became manager in 1982.

Jean-Pierre Jabouille competing in the turbo-charged Equipe Renault Elf RS01 in Italy in 1977.

© F1-photo.com / Cahier Archive

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