Williams Renault hit the top step of the podium again in Sunday — and it is the important new car-engine combination that has played a major part in getting the team back into winning ways.
In 2009, the Brawn team demonstrated just how important the package of engine and car can be. Having spent years trying to win as Honda, the team suddenly hit the front after the Japanese manufacturer pulled out and a Mercedes engine was slotted into the back of the car.
It was no coincidence, according to team insiders, that this dramatic turnaround came after the engine switch. It was well known that the Honda unit was not on a par with its rivals and Brawn team members were confident they'd had the machinery to win for several years, had they not had to run the Honda unit.
It's not quite the same at Williams, but the turnaround is certainly a significant part down to the engine as much as the tidy new FW34.
Last year's car was, admittedly, a bit of a dog. Frank Williams himself described it as "deficient in most areas that matter" but this year's car has been commended for taking the best of the concepts in the FW33 machine (most notably the tiny gearbox) and making them work.
In terms of the car, there is just a five percent carry-over from the FW33 — but aside from that it was immediately clear from Maldonado's reaction to the Renault engine, even on his very first installation lap, that it was way better than the Cosworth he'd used before.
Aside from the improved power and driveability, the Renault can run hotter than the Cosworth, which enables the team to run less cooling — with a knock-on benefit of more efficient aerodynamics.
But ironically it is perhaps in the area of engine mapping — something that the FIA cracked down on last year — where the Renault collaboration is being of most benefit.
Last year, engine mapping — basically the programming between the angle of the pedal under the driver's foot and the setting of the engine's throttle — came under scrutiny when the off-throttle blowing technique was employed to improve rear aerodynamics in recent years.
That was banned, but with the increased sensitivity of the tyres this year, engine mapping has taken on a new and entirely different importance.
Tyre wear is a direct result of wheelspin. The more the tyres slip on the track surface, the more heat gets into them and the more they degrade and grip levels deteriorate.
The rear tyres are put under immense stress by forces associated with accelerating and decelerating - and the stop-go nature of racing means that getting the power on and off smoothly plays an important part in the reduction of tyre wear. In braking, the forces also need to be balanced delicately to limit wheel locking - where the wheel literally stops turning and scrapes along the track, creating significant friction heat and causing even more issues for the tyres.
To limit wear through accelerating and decelerating, mapping can be used to balance how sensitive the driver is on the throttle by determining what the engine does at each position of the pedal. This is so specific that the optimum setting changes for each driver, for each track, for each corner and for different conditions.
This year, the priority in engine mapping has switched from ultimate performance to minimising wheelspin and this has become one of the most crucial challenges for engineers this year. Most teams spend much of their Friday sessions working to perfect.
To reduce locking, engine maps can ensure some torque is still produced by the engine even when the driver's foot is not on the pedal (although rules stipulate this must be a negative torque). This procedure uses the engine more on each lap and is costly on fuel consumption, adding up to a significant amount of extra fuel to be carried during a race (which itself has an effect on tyre wear) and it also increases engine temperatures - but in these times of sensitive tyres, perfecting this balance is crucial.
And it is in these two areas that Renault appears to be excelling.
After working out the sensitivities in the tyres in the opening races, the Bahrain race saw Renault-powered drivers fill the top four places, with Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel victorious. In Spain, the victorious Williams of Maldonado was one of three Renault-powered cars in the top four.
It is said that the Barcelona circuit demonstrates the most consistent set of challenges that will be found in the rest of the season — and if that is true for this year then anyone with a Renault behind them should see good times ahead...