April 21, 2017

Grand Prix racing as we know it will be a dangerous and noisy part of history, if Renault gets their way. They have a vision for the future of the race, filled with electric cars, autonomous driving, better spectator insight and an easier to follow and more entertaining presentation.

A constantly morphing car optimizes for road and wind conditions on the fly and driver safety is decently improved. All of this sounds intriguing, if not ideal, but the R.S. 2027 concept is, as the name implies, a decade away.

There’s a lot going on here, more than just the announcement of a concept car, but let’s start with the vehicle and work out from there.

Powering the R.S. 2027 will be dual electric motors, one front and one rear, with 250 kW each. An additional 500 kW is delivered to the rear from a ‘small’ 6-cylinder gas engine. In total, that’s 750 kW to the rear (1005 horsepower,) and 250 kW (335 hp) to the front. With a new total vehicle weight of about 1322 lbs, we are talking about a 1.01:1 power to weight ratio.

My car has a 0.02:1 power to weight ratio.

Although banned from the track over twenty five years ago, Renault envisions active suspension on their car. Combined with adjustable flaps, spoilers and more, the car can dramatically adjust downforce and overall aerodynamics to optimize for the road conditions.

The tires themselves will have adjust-ability and a sort of suspension system to them as well.

In the self-driving and autonomous department, all cars would connect to a shared network. Cars may be automatically speed limited if there is a flag or obstruction on the course, cars may be restricted from launch if another car is incoming in the pits. Cars may even drive themselves when behind the pace car.

There may even be a system that gives power boosts to deserving drivers, just like in your favorite video games.¬†Last, and certainly not least, the wheels will have LED displays that can show a car’s position, lap count and more.

A decade sounds like a long time, but if any of these features dreamed up by Renault are to become a reality, we may just see a few roll out in coming years. If nothing else, some of the autonomy features can be tested in the Formula E series.

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