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Will this finally be Fisichella’s year? 06 Feb 2006

Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Renault R26. Formula One Testing, Jerez, Spain, 10 January 2006. World ©  Patching/Sutton

Italian optimistic for second season with Renault

Giancarlo Fisichella won last year’s season-opening Grand Prix, but after that dream debut for Renault, things didn’t go quite to plan and he finished the year fifth in standings, 75 points behind his team mate. So what is he expecting for 2006? Can he really get on terms with Fernando Alonso? With the team’s new R26 machine looking highly promising in testing, Fisichella talks about his prospects.

Q: There is a new season ahead of us, and you will have set yourself clear targets. Can you share them with us?
GF:
It is simple for me: I am aiming for the world championship. This is a team that is defending the world title and working hard to win it again, so I am looking forward to a great season. I want to score points, win races and be in the fight for the championship until the last races of the season.

Q: Looking back to 2005, you had a season of some mixed fortunes. What do you think you learned?
GF:
2005 was an interesting year for me, but it is in the past now. I needed a lot of determination at certain points, and there were some very good battles, some sweet moments and also some difficult times. I am now completely comfortable within the whole team. We work very well together, I think the reliability problems from last year have been resolved, so I am looking forward to a very strong year working together.

Q: Tell us a little about the car you will be driving, the R26…
Q: GF:
It’s a great-looking car isn’t it? It looks really good to me, and the first impression I had gave me a lot of confidence. From the outside, it looks quite similar to the R25, like a development of that car. That was what we wanted it to feel like too, because that car was very nice for the drivers. When I got in the car in Jerez, it felt good straight away. I remember in 2005, my first run was a very nice surprise - the car was excellent. I have the same feeling with the R26.

Q: The V8 engines are also brand new for the coming season. What was your feeling with the RS26?
GF:
I was impressed, and I think the whole engine team has done a fantastic job to get this engine ready for the new season. Of course, there is much less power than with the V10, but none of the bad things people were talking about. At the wheel, the vibrations do not really feel different to the V10, and the power delivery is very smooth. There is less torque, but the power is very progressive, without any weak spots as the revs increase.

Q: Do you have to alter your driving style to cope with the V8 engine?
GF:
There is not too much adaptation, in my opinion. The cars are definitely easier to drive, but I don’t think it will favour one type of driver. With reduced power, it is important to be very smooth on the exit of the slow speed corners, because if you make a mistake then it is much harder to recover the time on the following straight. For me, the key thing will be to make as few mistakes as possible and be very consistent. But when it comes to some drivers benefiting more than others, I don’t see it happening. All the drivers in the top teams are quick, they are great drivers, and even the guys with an aggressive style will know how to adapt. We will all be driving flat out, on the limit.

Q: In late 2005, you mentioned that some parts of last year’s car were not perfectly suited to your style. Has that situation improved with the R26?
GF:
It is still very early to say. The important thing is that there are two months between the first test and the opening race of the year. That is a good period to build up my confidence with the car, to fine-tune it and to adapt my style so that we can start the season in a very strong situation.

Q: 2006 will also see numerous changes to sporting regulations, including tyre changes in the race and a new qualifying format. What is your opinion?
GF:
There will definitely be some interesting strategies in 2006! In terms of the tyre changes, I think it is a better choice. There were times last year when we had some problems with those rules, and the possibility to change tyres makes things a little bit safer in my opinion. The new qualifying format is very interesting for the drivers too. I think we will have some new tactics to try, but I am pleased to have an hour of qualifying again, and to be able to do more than one lap. I hope the spectacle will be a good one for the fans.

Q: Finally, you will be team mate to the reigning world champion in 2006. A lot of people will be wondering whether that changes anything in your approach?
GF:
The easy answer to that is no. Fernando had a fantastic season in 2005, and he did a great job. But everybody starts the championship on an equal footing. We are on the same level in the championship and in the team. From my point of view, it starts again from zero in Bahrain, and I hope we can have a good rivalry this year.