The 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 car made its public debut at a packed Silverstone last Sunday with GP2 Series points leader Romain Grosjean at the wheel. Details of the Dallara-built car's innovative features made headlines when they were announced at Monaco in May, key among these was the introduction of a Formula 1-style Drag Reduction System and the removal of the car's battery - a first for a production single-seater.
The battery is replaced by an advanced 'SuperCaps' electronic control unit, which has been developed by Nîmes-based XAP Electronique. An anti-engine stall strategy will be incorporated into the design to compensate for the lack of a starter on the car.
Throughout the development phase, conducted by inaugural Formula 2 champion Andy Soucek, former Formula Renault 3.5 runner-up Ben Hanley and Grosjean, Renault-Sport was keen to ensure that the cutting-edge technologies and desired hike in performance would not destabilise the formula's cost-effective position in the single-seater market place.
"If a season cost is now between Euro 700 000 and Euro 800 000, I would expect it to be raised to between 760k and 860k in 2012,"says Renault-Sport Technologies circuit technical manager Benoit Dupont. "GP2 is around two million Euros, so we are still less than half the price."