When Renault decided to enter to Formula 1 Championship, the work on F1 project started in 1975 in secrecy. The task has been entrusted to Alpine, a company with was closely related to Renault and was involved in the construction of open-wheel racing cars, initially in Formula 3 and then in Formula 2, since 1971. Chief designer Andre de Cortanze with Andre Renut and Marcel Hubert set to work at the Alpine plant in Dieppe with the legend that the team is working on a new Formula 2 Alpine. The first prototype was ready in early spring of 1976. The car was built around aluminium monocoque with 1.496 cc Renault – Gordini V6 twin turbo engine developing 500 bhp at 11000 rpm. Different nose cones and front wings were tested initially in wind tunnel and a variant with the nose cone was tried at the Michelin Ladoux test track on 23 March 1976. The first tester of the car was Jean-Pierre Jabouille, the last true driver – engineer in F1. The car nose cone format was tested on the track in Paul Ricard, but was discarded in favor of the one-piece front wing seen in this scale model. After secret tests at Ladoux, first tests on racing track were held at Dijon-Pernois, then in Spanish Jarama in May. The black-painted prototype appeared for its first public viewing at the Paul Ricard tests on 16 June 1976 driven by Jabouille. The secret was now revealed. It is formula 1. It is Alpine. It is Renault powered by turbocharged Gordini. First time since 3-litre Formula One rules introduction in 1966, the forgotten regulation that formula allowed 1500 cc forcibly inducted engine was implemented. Later the 1976 season more tests sessions were run at Nogaro. For Nogaro tests the car was repainted in Renault yellow and clearly displayed its laboratory status. In this yellow livery the Alpine A500 was unveiled to the press and Renault employees at grand presentation in Paris on 8 December 1976. The mission of A500 was over. The RS01, the first official Renault F1 car, made its debut at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1977, effectively starting the Turbo-era. This scale model is from the regular Eligor production line.
|Société des Automobiles Alpine SAS|