Constructors' Championship 2010: 5th
Having recovered in 2010 from the setbacks and embarrassment of the 'Crash-gate' race-fixing scandal uncovered at Singapore in 2009, Renault's preparations for 2011 looked good until Robert Kubica's rallying crash in February.
The Pole, tipped for the top and established at the heart of the team after succeeding Spaniard Fernando Alonso, suffered multiple injuries in his accident in Italy. He could be out for a year, or worse.
Vitaly Petrov, of Russia, was not experienced enough to lead... and within days underrated Nick Heidfeld was called in. "We know that our car is much better this year than last," said team principal Eric Boullier. "So, for us, a successful season would be to have more podiums and a couple of wins."
9 Nick Heidfeld (age 33, German, 172 Grand Prix starts)
Never a winner, but a veteran of many fine races, he has finished second eight times and brings unfulfilled ambition and intelligent feedback to the team. He was the only choice after Kubica's accident and has a real chance to shake off his 'bridesmaid' tag if the car is good enough to deliver that first elusive race win following stints with Prost, Sauber (twice), Jordan and Williams.
10 Vitaly Petrov (age 26, Russian, 19 Grand Prix starts)
Having learned from his errors in a season of mistakes and much innuendo about his sponsors last year, Vitaly shone in the Hungarian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix to retain his seat in the team, thanks also to plenty of raw speed. That should stand him in good stead for a year of steadier race performances and points accumulation as the one-time champion team continue recovery.
Renault R31, powered by Renault, employs exhaust exits at the front of the sidepods in a sleek design from technical director James Allison.