Renault has unveiled its F1 challenger for the 2003 season, the Mike Gascoyne-designed R23, in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Renault has unveiled its F1 challenger for the 2003 season, the Mike Gascoyne-designed R23, in Lucerne, Switzerland.

The blue and yellow machine is the French manufacturer’s second car since returning to F1 as a works team and, with Italian Jarno Trulli joined by Spaniard Fernando Alonso in the driving line-up, expectations are high for the coming season.

Renault team principal Flavio Briatore, chairman Patrick Faure, Alonso and Trulli were present to introduce the new Renault in a brief ceremony.

The Lucerne unveiling is the first part of a dual launch for the team, the second part of which will take place at the Paul Ricard circuit in France on January 23.

The R23’s main distinguishing feature over its predecessor, which lifted Renault to fourth in the constructors' standings, is a drooping nose similar to that seen on last year's Jordan EJ13. The new car also contains some curvaceous exhaust outlets.

"Development started early - we had the car ready in November and have done mileage already," said Trulli, who tested the new machine, with 2002 bodywork, at Valencia in Spain last November. "The car looks very similar at the moment, but we will have a complete new aerodynamics package for the start of the season in Australia.

"We have a new engine and a new gearbox and it looks as though the team has done a very good job," he added.

Alonso, the former Minardi driver who was Renault’s tester last year, said: "Getting a race seat with a major manufacturer is a major opportunity, and I'm not going to let it go to waste. Before fighting for myself in 2003, I will be driving for the team."

Gascoyne, Renault’s technical director, predicted that the new R23 would be competitive enough to score points in every race of the upcoming season.

"In 2002, when we were reliable, we generally finished in the top six," he said. "More points will be awarded now and that's good for us. Finishing in the top eight shouldn't be a problem, which means we should be able to add to our total at each grand prix."