By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) – Renault has appointed Frenchman Frederic Vasseur as principal of its British-based Formula One team which plans to add 100 staff to the payroll this year, Renault Sport Racing president Jerome Stoll said on Wednesday.
He added that a mid-season restructuring will also see Renault Sport Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul move to Britain from France to focus on improvements at the Enstone factory.
Vasseur, who started the season as Racing Director in a team with no official principal, will oversee day-to-day track operations at races and engine activities in Viry-Chatillon, near Paris.
“We also have the target of almost 100 extra personnel at Enstone this year as well as over 30 extra personnel at Viry,” Stoll told the official Formula1.com website.
“This is not the work of a moment as we are targeting the very best people in their respective fields.”
Renault had said when they bought the ailing Lotus team last December that it would add significantly to the factory workforce.
Stoll’s comments made clear that Britain’s recent vote to leave the European Union had not changed those plans.
He said Renault, drivers’ and constructors’ champions in 2005 and 2006 with Spaniard Fernando Alonso, was committed to a capital expenditure program over the next five years to return to the top.
“Next year we are targeting top five in the constructors’ championship; the year after we want to be regularly fighting for podiums,” he said.
“By 2020 we want to be fighting for the championships with the best power unit and best chassis in the sport. This is what we want to achieve.”
The French carmaker will supply three teams with engines next season — the factory outfit along with Red Bull Racing, whose units are badged as Tag Heuer, and Toro Rosso.
Renault have scored in only one of nine races so far this season, with Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen seventh in Russia. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won in Spain and finished second in Austria last weekend.
Technical head Nick Chester said the majority of Renault’s focus was now on the 2017 car.
“We are at the stage where we are defining the chassis, looking at cooling and suspension layouts and developing bodywork in the wind tunnel,” he said in a preview for Sunday’s British Grand Prix.
“The program has shifted heavily toward 2017 and we are working through it completely with our power unit colleagues as one team.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)