The Renault RE30 was a Formula One car designed by Michel Tétu and Gérard Larrousse for use by the Renault team in the 1981 Formula One season. It was an entirely different design from its predecessor, the RE20. It incorporated carbon fibre into parts of its construction, a material which was becoming more and more commonplace in F1 at the time. The turbocharged engine was developed further and produced around 540 bhp, with twin KKK turbochargers. Renault was joined by Ferrari in developing turbo engines for their cars, with the Ferrari 126 C. The car had advanced ground effect technology, with concessions given to the new rules which banned sliding skirts.
Renault replaced Jean-Pierre Jabouille with promising young Alain Prost to partner René Arnoux for the season. After a slow start to the year, in which Prost gained only one podium finish, he broke his duck with a win at the French Grand Prix in changeable weather, and followed up with wins at Zandvoort and Monza, which gave him an outside chance at the world championship. Unreliability cost him his chance, but he finished a respectable fourth in the final standings. Arnoux had a very unlucky season and bore the brunt of most of the mechanical trouble that affected the RE30's development, most of which was done by Prost. The RE30 didn't suit Arnoux's aggressive driving style as opposed to Prost's smooth driving style which may have caused some of the problems with his car.
For 1982, the car was updated and modified with a redesigned nose section, new rear wing and kick-ups added in front of the rear wheels. The engine was further developed to give around 590 bhp. Prost made a strong start to the season and won in Brazil and South Africa to underline his intention to win the championship that season. However, those would be his only victories of the year, as Ferrari, Williams and McLaren overtook Renault in the technology race. The RE30B was a formidable qualifying car, with Prost or Arnoux on pole for the majority of the races, but reliability was suspect for both drivers, mostly due to problems with the new electronic fuel injection which failed repeatedly during the races proper. Arnoux took two wins during the latter half of the year, but only finished four races during the whole season. Prost was in sight of victory at Monaco, Austria and Dijon but had problems during the final laps of all three races. He eventually salvaged fourth in the championship, whilst Renault finished third in the constructors' championship.
The RE30 was further updated to "C" specification for the early races of the 1983 season, until the new RE40 was available. Eddie Cheever drove the RE30C for 2 races and team leader Prost drove the RE30C for one race.
With seven wins and sixteen pole positions, the RE30 was Renault's most successful car until Fernando Alonso's world championships of 2005 and 2006.
Complete Formula One results
(key) (results in bold indicate pole position; results in italics indicate fastest lap)
* 6 points scored using the Renault RE20
** All 79 points scored using the Renault RE40
- Pritchard, Anthony (1986). Directory of Formula One cars 1966-1986. Aston Publications. pp. p180–182. ISBN 0-946627-02-9.
- Nye, Doug (1986). Autocourse History of the Grand Prix car 1966-1985. Hazleton Publishing. pp. p231. ISBN 0-905138-37-6.