For the Benetton team, 2001 marked the end of an era. The team, which had existed since 1986, had been sold to engine suppliers Renault in 2000, and 2002 would mark the complete takeover of the team. However, Renault's return to F1 in 2001 as an engine supplier after a three-year hiatus proved extremely troublesome for most of the year.
The car's main problem was the unusual wide-angled (111°) engine configuration. Although this offered potential aerodynamic advantages as it sat lower in the chassis, the initial form of the engine proved to lack horsepower and reliability. The first half of the season was a disaster as the cars often struggled to qualify in the top twenty, and could only battle Minardi at the tail of the field. However, Fisichella managed to salvage a point at Interlagos.
From mid-season, the car steadily improved, with revised aerodynamics and an effective launch and traction control system that was implemented during the course of the season. A rather fortituitous double-points finish at Hockenheim was followed by an outstanding display from Fisichella to take third place at Spa. Thereafter, the car was a consistent challenger for points, even if Button was outperformed by his team-mate all season.
The team eventually finished seventh in the Constructors' Championship, with 10 points.