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Bob Bell sees similarities between Renault and Mercedes

Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Renault technical director Bob Bell says there are similarities between his team now and the reigning champions Mercedes back in 2010.

Bell joined Mercedes as technical director after it bought Brawn GP in 2009 and was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the team's success under the current V6 turbo regulations. Renault has returned to the sport as a full constructor this year after taking over the struggling Lotus outfit and Bell, who is now heading up both chassis and engine departments, says there are clear parallels with Mercedes.

"I think there are similarities," he told ESPN. "When I went to Mercedes it was still very much in the mould of the Brawn team that was previously Honda. Of course when Honda withdrew and it became Brawn a lot of people were laid off, the head count was way down and the first thing we had to do was put in place a sense of a structure that would deal with the forthcoming challenge of the current car, the next year's car and then 2014's car.

"At one stage we were running three car programmes in parallel, so we had to put the structure in place to deal with that and build the resources to deliver on it. There are very much similarities between the two programmes, so it's not unknown territory that's for sure."

But Bell is not underestimating the challenge of rebuilding the Renault team over the next few years.

"It's a difficult thing to do because these days in Formula One most of the good engineers are all in long-term contracts with long notice periods. So you can't flick a switch and suddenly recruit a posse of new blood. We've got a steady growth plan in place and we recognise we are in it for the long haul. We are not, therefore, prepared to just take whatever is there. We will look for the right people to fit with the team and work well with the team and work to the rights standards. We'll take our time, get the right people and we won't shortcut that.

"Our growth plan sees us growing from 470 people currently to about 650 in 18 months to two years. That's achievable but we need to make sure we do it in a way that is manageable and we end up with right people.

"On the engine side we don't require that level of growth at Viry Chatillon because they weren't wound down in terms of resources over the last year or so and they are at about the right number of people with just a small amount of growth. The situation at Viry is probably more to do with making sure we have the right organisational structure in place rather than outright numbers."

And Bell is confident Renault is willing to put the necessary financial resources behind the team to make it work, but also underlined the importance of attracting fresh income.

"Renault are very experienced in motor sport and have been in grand prix racing for over 100 years, and when they say they are going to commit to something they commit to it. But this modern era of Formula One is very tight from a financial perspective and it costs a lot to go F1 racing at the top and there aren't the big-ticket sponsors around that there used to be. All of the car manufacturers, whether it is Renault, Mercedes or Fiat, they have to be very careful about the amount of money they invest in this because they have a lot of other pulls on their cash at the minute.

"Renault are going to be fully behind us, they will support is with the budgets we need to do the job, but they are going to expect us to deliver, they are going to expect us to deliver cost-effectively and they are going to expect us to attract income from existing sources and new ones. They can't be expected to foot the whole bill."