The Renault Formula 1 team has announced technical director Nick Chester will leave the French outfit as part of a “major restructuring” of its technical department.

Chester has been associated with the Enstone-based squad for 19 years, joining the team under its original guise Benetton as test engineer.

Working for Renault during its most successful period when it won back-to-back world championships with Fernando Alonso in 2005 and 2006, Chester graduated to chassis technical director in 2013 at Lotus.

He has played a significant role since Renault’s return to F1 in 2016, with the French manufacturer finishing a strong fourth in 2018. However, a dip in performance this season saw Renault slip to fifth in the standings behind McLaren.

“I have enjoyed 19 years in a team with great spirit and have worked with an incredibly loyal and talented group of people,” said Chester. “I am looking forward to a new challenge and wish everybody in the team all the best for the future.”

Renault confirms Chester will now undertake a period of gardening leave. His departure comes after the signing of ex-Ferrari and McLaren technical chief Pat Fry, who will link up with the team in 2020.

Commenting on Chester’s exit, team principal Cyril Abiteboul said: “Nick has been a key part of Enstone for almost 20 years. His passion for the team has never wavered, despite experiencing some extremely challenging times.

“More recently, his commitment, technical insight and enthusiasm have inspired us to move from the back of the grid to the front of the midfield. We would like to sincerely thank Nick for everything and wish him every success in the next stage of his career.”