Renault has let its designers run wild ahead of Auto Shanghai, and the result is the eye-catching R.S. 2027 Vision, a look at where Formula 1 might be in (you guessed it) 2027. Although it still requires a human driver, virtually everything else about the Vision signals a radical departure from everything we know about the pinnacle of world motorsport right now.
One of the biggest areas of focus for Renault when designing the R.S. 2027 was safety. The death of Jules Bianchi following a collision at the Japanese Grand Prix in 2014 has thrust post-accident protocols into sharp focus, so rather than forcing drivers to follow a set speed limit while track crews clean up, the Vision has a safety-first autonomous mode.
Drivers also sit behind a polycarbonate cockpit canopy, minimizing the risk of flying debris causing injury. Anyone who remembers Felipe Massa being hit by an errant spring at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix will likely appreciate the benefits of an enclosed cockpit.
One of the greatest criticisms of enclosed cockpits is the disconnect it causes between racers and fans, but Renault's designers are adamant the clear canopy will give viewers a good view of their heroes.
While we're talking spectacle, the design team has been heavy on the lighting. Active LEDs are incorporated into the wheels and moving aerodynamics elements, and armchair enthusiasts can track the telemetry of their favorite driver using a mobile app.
Unfortunately, the Renault crystal ball must have broken when it came time to choose a powertrain. The company suggests fuel capacity could be cut in half in the next 10 years, and has fitted the R.S. 2027 with high-energy density batteries. The car can be slipped into battery-only mode in the pit lane, and the hybrid system can be used to provide four-wheel drive.
"One role of Renault Sport Racing is to anticipate the future of Formula 1 so that it draws a maximum number of fans in an environment consistent with Groupe Renault's objectives," says Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director at Renault Sport Racing. "We look forward to generating inspired conversations with the racing community, fans and enthusiasts through this concept that highlights our ideas and desires."
The R.S. 2027 Vision is on show at Auto Shanghai. Stay tuned for the latest from the show, and make sure you check out the Renault launch video below.