The first turbocharged engine to race regularly and the first turbocharged engine to win a grand prix - both accolades are held by French car manufacturer Renault. The early days of their first tenure were tough. But after a win and multiple podiums in 1979, they had become a force to be reckoned with. Now, however, after many years of success they seem to be on self destruction mode with no way out.
A few decades ago, they had the most unreliable engine on the grid, failing to finish a single race in 1977. The "yellow joke" symbolised Renault in their first season. The works team didn't last long as they pulled out of the sport in 1985 despite competing for wins and titles. However, they continued to supply engines until 12 months later before taking a two year sabbatical.
In 1989 they were back supplying engines to Williams. They found success in 1992, lifting Nigel Mansell to world championship glory and retaining their newly acquired crown with Alain Prost (a Renault works driver in the early days. They nearly made it a hat trick of titles in 1994 when Damon Hill controversially lost the championship in an accident with Michael Schumacher in Adelaide.
For 1995, Benetton had Renault engines and they did the double - Schumacher taking his second consecutive drivers title and the team winning the constructors championship. In 1996 and 1997, Hill and Villeneuve won further drivers title using Renault engines..
Renault withdrew again at the end of 1997. However Mecachrome, Supertec and Playlife were all powered by rebadged Renault engines up to the end of 2000 before in 2001... You guessed it, they were back as a works team.
The Benetton-Renault group (that was renamed Renault F1 Team in 2002) won their first race in 2003 with Fernando Alonso reaching the top step in the Hungarian Grand Prix. By 2005, they acquired the first double championship haul as a works team and to cap it all off, followed it up with repeat performance in 2006.
During this year, they also supplied customer engines to Red Bull which proved to be a partnership that would thrive in future years. Some uneventful but competitive seasons saw a victory in 2008 and a podium in 2009. This was grossly overshadowed by the controversial 'crashgate' scandal at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix which Alonso won after teammate Piquet Jr was told to crash and bring out the safety car to allow Alonso to win.
The 2010 season saw a phenomenal performance from Robert Kubica in Renault's last season as a works team. By 2012, the team was merely reduced to a supplier to the now rebranded Lotus as well as Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Caterham F1 teams.
The Red Bull link took four consecutive drivers and constructors championships between 2010-2013. The new regulations for the 2014 season, however, saw a sharp downturn in performance, with Renault falling behind the competition.
To compound matters, McLaren's move to Honda power left a vacancy for the much preferred Mercedes power unit for this season (2015) and Lotus took it. And the administration of Caterham left Renault with only two customers and the marriage to the Red Bull group is now turning sour. If the Red Bull team goes with Mercedes and Toro Rosso returns to Ferrari power - as rumoured - Renault are out of the sport again.
The only viable return option is to re-buy Lotus and become a works team again. If they can't improve the power unit, however, maybe the route to success is Renault-Mercedes F1 team. In the fast paced world of F1, anything could happen.
by Matthew Gannon