Renault chassis technical director Nick Chester says the team’s rapid expansion has been a challenge given the size of its growth.
When the French manufacturer purchased the ailing Lotus team, the manpower at Enstone had been shrinking due to financial constraints. After Renault’s return as a constructor, the team has been a major recruitment drive as well as investing in new facilities, with an estimated 50 percent more people having arrived over the past two years.
“It has been quite difficult,” Chester said. “It’s certainly been time consuming, because recruiting that many people is a big job. It’s been a big job all the time as we’ve been building the team. It does need constant looking at for how you balance departments, where the bottlenecks are.
“You’re never finished with that anyway, there’s always an area that can be made better, then you make that area better, and then there’s another area you want to make better. It just keeps growing.
“I’ve been quite pleased [with] the way we have built it up. The progression has been quite fast. The atmosphere in the team has been quite nice. The departments have knitted well together, so that side of it has been pretty good.”
Chester attributes part of the success of the expansion to Renault’s willingness to promote from within as well as look at external candidates to fill roles.
“It’s both,” he said. “We’ve brought a good number of very good people in from outside, and there’s a lot of people who’ve grown. We’ve got a very good graduate program, and a lot of people on the graduate program have come up and taken mid-level positions quite quickly and really contributed.
“We try to do both – we try to bring people in through internships, graduates, all the way through, and then we pull in occasional extra talent from the outside when we’ve got specific holes to fill.”
One of the more high-profile additions was the FIA’s former head of technical department Marcin Budkowski, who Chester says has proven a key hire as he oversees some of Renault’s team development.
“He’s slotted in really well,” he said. “I knew him really well from when he was at the FIA, and he’s taking a bit of an overall view of where we take Enstone, particularly. So how we’re doing our investment on the site, how we’re growing the departments, as well as having a bit of an interest technically, because he’s got a good aero background. He’s slotted in well, and I think he’s only going to help us grow and develop the team.”