Renault Sport F1 Team's British driver Jolyon Palmer (L) and his teammate Danish driver Kevin Magnussen pose with their team ahead of the start of the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit on November 27, 2016. / AFP / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Renault ended its first season of incorporation in the Formula One World Championship with strong foundations for its future. That’s the assessment of Renault Sport Racing Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul, who points to the growth and expansion taking place at Enstone, as well as the significant power unit progress seen in 2016.

Announced in February 2016, Renault Sport Formula One Team is the third full manufacturer entry in Formula 1, alongside Ferrari and Mercedes Benz. The team came into being through the 2015 purchase of the Enstone-based chassis construction facility which was combined with Renault Sport’s Viry-Châtillon power unit facility.

“We’ve stated the reasons for Renault returning to Formula 1 as a full manufacturer entry for 2016 many times, but they are worth reiterating; through having our own team we are the masters of our destiny and we can promote our image as well as showcase our technology to a massive global audience,” explains Abiteboul.

“2016 was always about laying the foundations for the future as we are committed to Formula 1 for the long haul. Our 2016 car, the R.S.16, was conceived in an unbelievably short timeframe – literally a couple of weeks – so our focus for this year has been on expansion of headcount and infrastructure and looking to next year and beyond.”

To these ends, the workforce has already increased by 20% at the team’s Enstone chassis base, where three distinct extension projects are currently underway.

“Expansion is not the work of a moment so we’ve been recruiting people through the year and they have been joining us throughout the season,” says Abiteboul. “It’s definitely a case of targeting a quality workforce to come join us, but we do require a significant quantity of personnel in Enstone as we grow at a level allowing us to fight against the top teams.”

“As part of this I’m happy to confirm that we have two appointments to Enstone’s senior management with Rob White transferring from Viry-Châtillon as Operations Director and Ciaron Pilbeam returning to us as Chief Race Engineer.

“In terms of facilities, we are significantly increasing our on-site CNC machining capacity with two new machines in a dedicated building, a new spray and preparation facility is currently being built and we will shortly start extending our main factory building by approximately 800m2 to house the expansion of almost every department at Enstone.”

Whilst Enstone has seen the most physical manifestations of the team’s growth, Viry-Châtillon has seen more subtle evolution.

“At Viry-Châtillon we’ve been working on the structure with a process of further evolution to the changes started in the recent past,” says Abiteboul. “This has meant adapting the structure to change from a power unit supplier to part of a full manufacturer entry in addition to continuing as a supplier to other parties, as well as targeted headcount expansion for better control of our skills and talents.”

The progress and improvement on the power unit side has been well documented over the year.

“One of our most tangible successes in 2016 has been the performance and reliability improvements of our power unit and the confirmation of long-term supply contracts with both Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso is the strongest illustration of this improvement,” says Abiteboul