Technical analysis: A detailed look at the Renault RS.17

The RS.17 clearly shows how quickly Renault abandoned efforts to improve their car last year — overall the attention to detail in multiple areas of the car is staggering, even at launch specification!

Nose and Front-Wing

The nose has been totally revamped over the 2016 design, featuring a much slender stub and prominently arched pylons connecting to the front-wing in order to reduce blockage to the underside of the car. Even the pylons have received some delicate treatment, extending as far back as the regulations allow to feed the shorter splitter (by regulation for 2017) and larger bargeboards. 

At first glance the camera pods appear to be of little interest, but on closer inspection they intricately connect with the upper part of the nose to form tiny turning vanes ahead of the front suspension.

The front-wing combines elements of its predecessor with some blatant design cues from the likes of Mercedes and McLaren, particularly the treatment of the upper flaps. Despite the larger front tyres and new deltoid shape Renault is steering the airflow out and around the car rather than inboard following on from the knowledge gained of such concept from the previous seven years.

Following a recent trend the RS.17 will incorporate an S-duct to help air transition over the nose onto the flat chassis top, evident from the inlet at the back of the nose and slotted exit just above the driver number.

Bargeboards, Sidepods and Airbox

Subject to much discussion during pre-season was how teams would utilise the freeing up of the bargeboard area — not since 2008 will there have been more complex designs on the cars. Although likely to evolve over testing, Renault has so far demonstrated wonderful creativity in this region.

The main board is heavily sculpted at its leading edge to capture airflow off the front-wing before it is swept outwards and behind an S-shaped turning vane that branches forward from the sidepod shoulder to meet the axe-head of the floor. This vane is designed to shield the sidepod undercut from front tyre wake, which will be a harder task this year given the wider tyres, and is elegantly connected to the sidepod via a squared-arch piece of bodywork.

This mounting bodywork shapes the airflow down and along the revised sidepods which are shrink-wrapped further around the car’s internals than last year. The bodywork is so tight that the team have gone to great efforts in designing a new airbox that is divided into several sections. Its high and wide shaping adopts a periscope appearance, pulling air into the turbocharger (main central inlet), ERS cooler (lower central) and gearbox oil cooler (outer inlets) while creating little disturbance for the rear-wing behind. 

A shark fin engine cover — used to reduce the effects that the car’s wake has on the rear wing in yaw — completes the striking visuals.

Rear-Wing and Diffuser

Perhaps the most visually appealing part of the new Renault is its rear end. Sitting between the huge rear tyres is the lower and slanted 2017 rear-wing, featuring crinkled endplates to clear the winglets that festoon the rear brake ducts and help deflect turbulence. The endplates also carry the open-ended louvres that started sprouting on the cars towards the back end of last year, designed to control the formation of wing tip vortices. The wing’s swan-neck mounting pylon carves through the central exhaust outlet (straddled by two wastegate pipes) and onto the cast titanium gearbox case.

Although the outer sections were blocked from public view, the RS.17 gave us our first proper look at the uprated diffusers for 2017 which are both wider and taller to generate more downforce. 

Small turning vanes and scallops have been installed ahead on the floor ahead of the rear tyre to alleviate tyre squirt impinging on the diffuser but expect a lot of the underfloor and its associated components to change throughout the season as the development race kicks on.