F1 Rewind: The last time Renault were World Champions
Renault came into 2006 as defending champions. Their triumph in 2005 will always be remembered to have finally managed to break the 6-year old stranglehold that Ferrari had in Formula 1. The French manufacturers had to contend with changes in rules for the new season as the 3.0 L V10 engines were replaced by 2.4 L V8 engines.
There were concerns that the lap speeds will be 5 seconds slower than the previous years, but despite the smaller engines, track records were set on a few tracks in the year. A new qualifying system was introduced too - consisting of 3 sessions with the slower cars getting progressively eliminated before a top 10 shootout of the fastest cars took place to decide the starting grid.
In an 18-race season, where only factory teams (Ferrari, Renault, Honda) won races, Ferrari won 9 times, Renault nabbed 8 wins while Honda won once. Title rivals, Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher won 7 times each, but Alonso was far more consistent with 14 podiums.
He beat a retiring Schumacher by 134-121 points, while Felipe Massa, with 2 wins, finished 3rd in the championships. Renault, with Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella's 72 points, trumped the Italian side in successive years. Meanwhile, McLaren-Mercedes and Honda had underwhelming years and didn't find the consistency for a title challenge despite having very good driver line-ups.
The entire season was a straight fight between Ferrari and Renault on Bridgestone and Michelin tires respectively, with both having equally matched machinery throughout. Renault's win in 2006 was the last season with two tire manufacturers - Bridgestone and Michelin. Bridgestone then decided to quit Formula 1 as Michelin became the sole supplier till 2010 after which Pirelli took over.
Renault has had a pattern of pulling out its factory team to only supply engines to customer sides. It carried on with diminishing success till 2010 before pulling out and then re-joining in 2016. The R26, piloted by Alonso and Fisichella in 2006, remains its second and latest instance of being crowned world constructor's champions.