Renault began its involvement in F1 during the last 5 races of 1977 with Jean-Pierre Jabouille in its only car. The Renault RS01 was well known for its 1.5 liter turbocharged engine, the first regularly used turbo engine in F1 history. Jabouille's car and engine proved highly unreliable and became something of a joke during its first races, failing to finish any of its races.
The following year was hardly better, characterized by 4 consecutive retirements caused by blown engines, but near the end of the year the team showed signs of success. Twice, the RS01 was 3rd on the grid and while finishing was still something of an issue, it managed to finish its first race on the lead lap at Watkins Glen near the end of 1978, giving the team a 4th place finish and its first F1 points.
Expanding to 2 drivers with René Arnoux joining Jabouille in 1979, the team continued to struggle although Jabouille earned a pole position at South Africa. By mid-season, both drivers had new cars, the RS10, and at the French Grand Prix in 1979 the team legitimized itself with a brilliant performance in a classic race. The two Renaults were on the front row in qualifying, and pole-sitter Jabouille won the race, the first driver in a turbo-charged car to do so, while Arnoux and Gilles Villeneuve were involved in an extremely competitive duel for second, Arnoux narrowly getting beaten to the line but getting a career best third. While Jabouille ran into hard times after that race, Arnoux finished a career high 2nd at Silverstone in the following race and then repeated that at the Glen, proving it wasn't a fluke.
Arnoux furthered this in 1980 with consecutive wins in Brazil and South Africa. Jabouille continued to have problems with retirements, but in the only race he finished in the points, he emerged victorious in Austria. Jabouille's inconsistency led to his dismissal and a driver named Alain Prost took over to join Arnoux in 1981. Prost showed the form that made him an F1 legend in his 3 years with the team and the Renaults were among the best in Formula 1, twice finishing third in the constructors championships and second once. Prost won 9 races with the team while Arnoux added two more in 1982.
Arnoux left for rival Ferrari after 1982 and was replaced by American Eddie Cheever for a season. When Prost left after 1983, the team turned to Patrick Tambay and Englishman Derek Warwick to bring them back to prominence. Despite a few good results the team was not among the elite anymore, with other teams doing a better job with turbo engines, some of which came from Renault themselves. As a result, the Renault team disbanded in 1985 and exclusively became an engine manufacturer.
The final year of Renault Sport provided another F1 first, as the team ran a third car in Germany that featured the first in-car camera which could be viewed live by a TV audience, this car only lasted 23 laps before a clutch problem.
A Renault team would return to F1 in 2002, purchasing the former Benetton team. It finished 4th, albeit a distant fourth, in its first year back, relying on young drivers Jarno Trulli and Jenson Button doing a solid job with the team. Button was replaced by young Spaniard Fernando Alonso in 2003. The team was a much more competitive 4th in the constructors standings, with a car renowned for it's launch control and it's great handling. Alonso was sensational behind the wheel of his Renault that season, becoming the youngest driver to win a pole position (in Malaysia) and a race (in Hungary).