Guest Author - Christine Blachford
The ING Renault F1 Team website is full of official information, some of which you will already know and some of it you may learn as you browse. However, I will point you towards the most important things now.
Firstly, the Renault Blog. Itís written by an insider, who goes under the name ďRF1 Paddock PassĒ. Heís obviously a mechanic, or an engineer, or someone who has access to all the bits and pieces that go into a race weekend. The wonderful thing about the blog is how honest and open it is. So many Formula 1 teams are secretive and donít like to include the fans in what goes on behind the scenes. Renault appear to be different in this regard. The blog quite happily talks about the weekends that go wrong, and obviously rejoices when they go right. Also, the blog allows comments which means plenty of interesting ideas from fans, some of which are quite often answered by ďRF1 Paddock PassĒ. Itís a great way to connect to the team and get some inside information.
The team also provide an official podcast, which is available in iTunes, or the RSS feed is available for any other users. The podcast features interviews with the drivers, with some top engineer bods and anyone else who is associated with the team. Itís not particularly insightful, but itís sometimes interesting to hear the official side of things. Itís almost an extension of whatever television coverage you get to hear.
My Club Renault is the most innovative part of the website. Unfortunately, you have to pay for it, itís 20 Euros, and you get exclusive access. You get a free Renault hat, plus some other incentives, but the most important stuff happens during the race. You can log in and get a dashboard view of what the driver is doing. When he turns left, an animated steering wheel turns left, when he goes right, it turns right. You can see when he changes gear. You can follow both Renault drivers as dots around a linear version of the track Ė just like they do in the garages.
Thereís also the engineerís view, which is a row of graphs where you can select what information you want to see. You can select speed, gear changes, braking, throttle, g forces and other technical information like that. Itís a lot to take in as the cars are going so fast, but itís a really good way to get involved in whatís happening on screen.
If you want to get behind the scenes at Renault, or F1 in general, I think this website is a good place to start, from the basic blog entries, to the more complex graphs at My Club Renault.