Renault names Ciaron Pilbeam chief race engineer

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Renault has named Ciaron Pilbeam its chief race engineer as part the continuing expansion of the team's operation, with Rob White moving to its Enstone base as operations director.

Renault endured a frustrating return year to Formula One, though it did not expect to be instantly competitive after purchasing Lotus in late 2015. The French manufacturer has a long-term plan to return to the front of the grid and has signed Nico Hulkenberg to partner Jolyon Palmer for next season.

On Thursday the team confirmed another new signing, with Pilbeam returning to Enstone, where he worked for the 2013 season when it was known as Lotus. He's previously had seven-year stints with Red Bull Racing and BAR Honda, while he most recently worked as chief race engineer at McLaren.

Renault Sport's racing managing director Cyril Abiteboul said: ""Expansion is not the work of a moment so we've been recruiting people through the year and they have been joining us throughout the season.

"It's definitely a case of targeting a quality workforce to come join us, but we do require a significant quantity of personnel in Enstone as we grow at a level allowing us to fight against the top teams. As part of this I'm happy to confirm that we have two appointments to Enstone's senior management with Rob White transferring from Viry-Châtillon as Operations Director and Ciaron Pilbeam returning to us as Chief Race Engineer.

"In terms of facilities, we are significantly increasing our on-site CNC machining capacity with two new machines in a dedicated building, a new spray and preparation facility is currently being built and we will shortly start extending our main factory building by approximately 800m2 to house the expansion of almost every department at Enstone."

White had previously been managing director (technical). Abiteboul says the appointment of Pilbeam is about laying the foundations for success in future seasons.

"We've stated the reasons for Renault returning to Formula One as a full manufacturer entry for 2016 many times, but they are worth reiterating; through having our own team we are the masters of our destiny and we can promote our image as well as showcase our technology to a massive global audience.

"2016 was always about laying the foundations for the future as we are committed to Formula 1 for the long haul. Our 2016 car, the R.S.16, was conceived in an unbelievably short timeframe -- literally a couple of weeks -- so our focus for this year has been on expansion of headcount and infrastructure and looking to next year and beyond."

Renault also confirmed its workforced has already increased by 20% at Enstone's chassis base, where "three distinct extension projects" are currently underway.