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Bob Bell becomes new Renault team principal
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Bob Bell becomes new Renault team principal
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Sep 2009   |  6:54 pm GMT  |  26 comments

Renault has just announced its new management team as it seeks to rebuild after the Singapore race fixing scandal.

Picture 25
Bob Bell, the wily Irishman who has been technical director for many years and who has worked at McLaren in the past, becomes the team principal, until the end of the season when a permanent replacement will be found. Alain Prost’s name continues to circulate in France as a possible candidate. He would restore a lot of pride and prestige to the brand after this demeaning and damaging episode.

Bob is very much a technical man, but he has a deep understanding of F1, is a first class manager and is pretty ego-free. It is a sound appointment, promoting from within.

The Renaults statement said, “Following the unfortunate recent events, the Renault F1 Team has reacted swiftly by implementing a new temporary management team structure, which will be in place from today until the end of the 2009 season.

“The reorganisation is as follows: Bob Bell, currently Technical Director, takes on the duty of Team Principal and Chief Technical Officer.

“Jean-François Caubet, currently Director of Marketing and Communications, takes the role of Managing Director.

“They will both report to Bernard Rey, President of the Renault F1 Team.

“Bob Bell will attend all the remaining races of the season and will be the team’s spokesperson on all sporting and technical matters. The Renault F1 Team is now ready to concentrate on the future and wishes to stress that no further comments or statements will be issued relating to the events of Singapore 2008.”

After training as an aerodynamicist, Bob Bell began his career in aviation, before turning his sights to Formula 1. He joined McLaren in 1982 and by 1988 was in charge of Research and Development, working on future projects that included the famous and ultimately still-born ‘Maverick’ land speed record challenger.

As an aerodynamicist with Benetton between 1997 and 1999, Bob moved to Jordan before rejoining Renault in 2002. He has been Technical Director since 2003, and the double-double of world championships in 2005 and 2006 were the reward for his dedication to the team’s spirit, ethics and technical achievement.

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26 Comments
  1. John Glynn says:

    Great decision to put an Irishman in charge, and you can’t argue with Bob’s qualities as a leader and a man who likes and gets results. I will miss some of the personality of recent years though – flamboyance and F1 go hand in hand. I hope Renault don’t go all shy and retiring.

  2. swayze says:

    Only a temporary appointment until the end of the season

    Will this be made permanent or is Prost still a contender as i have read on various sites?

  3. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    So Bob Bell was deepthroat?

    1. F1 Kitteh says:

      Witness D you mean.

    2. Paparazzi says:

      Witness BB.. It seems clear now..

  4. teamworkf1 (toronto-ON) says:

    So this Bob Bell is not the one who took all the info from McLaren, right? lol

    That could be very funny! . .

    And just a note, Ron Dennis didn’t leave because of max, Ron had PLANNED already; and a difference from flavio, Ron Dennis can come back any time that he wants to the paddock. :D

    Ron Dennis in the same sentence as flavio, not a good idea. Thank you! :D

  5. Silverstoned says:

    That’s two legends now whose promised comeback never materialised.
    Must say I’m disappointed about Prost.

  6. bob would in my humble opinion be ideal, i still cant belive they would seriously consider prost !!

    i remember the mess that was left of his last team and how they and their families were all left out to dry. Just because he could drive does not mean he is capable of management.

  7. Antoine says:

    Hi James

    Why do you see Kimi going to McLaren as unnecessary? I think
    it would be a strong pairing and provide plenty of sparks..

    If Lewis were to beat Kimi in equal machinery it would silence alot of detractors. Kimi driving like he is currently would pretty much whip anyone..

    1. Tim Lamkin says:

      No Kimi can’t beat anyone unless he feels like it…that is the issues (he never feels like racing)….give him 49m and he sleeps through the races

  8. Opposite Lock (Ken) says:

    Great choice. I hope it becomes permanent. (And scandal free!) Prost? No way. A total debacle as a team owner/manager.

  9. Gary Davidson says:

    I think the last few days have shown Renault are committed to F1, for next season at least anyway. It seems like they will be supplying Williams engines next season so it will be good to see the Williams-Renault combination back on our screens. Hopefully to a similar degree of success they had last time they were in partnerhsip.

    Speaking of Williams, they could have young Nico Hulkenberg driving for them next season. Now I have followed him with great interest this season in GP2, he has walked the title against more experienced rivals in his first season, similar to Hamilton in 2006.

    James, do you rate Hulkenberg and what is the general feeling in the paddock of how he would fair in F1?

    Also, what do you think the chances are of Frank and Patrick putting him in the car for the final few races of this season? I think they might do considering they are getting out of their Toyota contract next season and Nakajima was placed there by them in the first place. It makes sense due to the lack of testing and as an evaluation for next season. Williams did it with Nakajima if you remember at Interlagos in 2007 after Wurz retired.

    1. James Allen says:

      I’ve watched him closely this year and he has got better and better – clearly the class of the field in GP2.

  10. Rudy Pyatt says:

    Pat Symonds was also “one of the good guys.” I have no reason to suspect Bell of anything, but we must be cautious, given recent disappointments.

    That this even occurs to me tells you how much damage has been done by Crashgate.

  11. Werewolf says:

    It seems to me that Renault have made a sensible decision but why make it temporary? Prost would be a headline grabber but is also an expensive risk, given his track record in management. Surely, Bell, as a respected insider, is also more likely to keep the team together and motivated rather than fragment it as Prost could.

    I had heard that Prost was making noises about working with Todt at the FIA. The Renault prospect would better fuel his competitive nature and be more lucrative, though.

    The other risk would be Prost Jr driving for the team …

  12. The Kimster says:

    Sounds like a good pick… I thought Prost would get it personally

  13. Kenny says:

    Prost has already demonstrated his inability to run a team, and he is the man who invented the F1 version of the “knock ‘em off the road” move. He’s exactly what Renault do not need right now…

    1. Prost was not successful running his own team, for sure, and made plenty of mistakes but there were a lot of issues behind the scenes that would have made it very difficult for anybody to manage.

      If you study your F1 history I think you will find that the “knock ‘em off the road” move was invented long before Prost. The incident in Suzuka with Senna, which I assume you are referring to, was a controversial move but Prost had made it clear to McLaren and Senna before the race that he would not “move over” if Senna tried one of his typical aggressive “let me through or have a crash with me” moves.

      He has clearly proven himself to be person of integrity and honesty throughout his F1 career as a driver and a team boss. There are doubts to his team management abilities but I think he would be good for Renault and I don’t think he would go back to being a team boss again if he didn’t think he could be successful.

      1. Kenny says:

        Jake- I was too harsh on Alain…I didn’t mean to say that there was no dignity or honesty in the man. He has plenty of that, no question. My point is that Renault has a serious PR problem right now, and there are one or two things in Prost’s past that may conjure up images that Renault don’t need to be associated with right now. And, they most certainly need a team principal of unquestioned ability and with a good track record.

        We took your advice and hit the books (my daughter and I)…we checked out every F1 race since the 1950 British GP and could not find any instance of an unquestioned intentional punt before Prost did it to Senna at Suzuka. After that there are plenty…Alain started a trend, it seems. We probably missed something…a recheck was too daunting.

  14. Baz says:

    Hi James

    What do you make of the Prost rumours? Okay, so he’s French and was a terrific driver, but his team, Prost GP, went bust. Is he really the right candidate or do you think he’ll have limited powers if he went to Renault? You mentioned the restoration of pride and prestigue, would Prost become a figure head or a very expensive mascot?

  15. Alexis says:

    He looks like Bob Mortimer!

    1. He does, doesn’t he?! Ulri-ka-ka-ka!

  16. pbyrne says:

    I never realised Bob Bell was Irish. Is he a northie or a southerner?

    Re. Prost – where did he go wrong with his own team? I seem to remember Trulli (and Panis? or was that Ligier?) making their names in a Prost… Are they interested in AP more because of his PR profile/fame? He also has a reputation as straight and honest, which Renault need right now.

    No substitute for managerial skills though…

  17. Owen Hayes says:

    A great choice by Renault, Bob Bell is one of the unspoken heroes in F1 and has had an incredibly successful career.

    As someone from an engineering and aerodynamics background this could mean a new beginning for the Renault team after the Briatore years.

    I’d love to see Prost as team principal, but if Bell does well there’s no reason why his position shouldn’t become permanent.

  18. F1Fan says:

    Great choice, Bob bell should bring experience and stability to the team that have had hard times this year. Would of been nice to have seen Prost though, maybe he’ll take over full time next year :)

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