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Renault unfazed by Ferrari threat 03 May 2005

Race winner Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R25 leads Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari F2005 
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Race, Imola, Italy, 24 April 2005

World championship leaders Renault are convinced that Ferrari are unlikely to repeat their stunning Imola race pace at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Although Fernando Alonso won in San Marino, he spent the closing stages of the race desperately fending off Michael Schumacher, who at times had been lapping around two seconds faster than the rest of the field.

However, Alonso believes the world champions are unlikely to maintain such dominance at Barcelona: “I think that Ferrari found very special conditions in San Marino that worked perfectly for them: it is not normal for one car to be so fast compared to every other car in the field, not just ours.

“Certainly, we are not now fighting the same Ferrari team we saw at the first three races, but I don't think we will be facing the same strength as in Imola either. Hopefully things will be tougher for them this weekend.”

Alonso’s thoughts were echoed by Pat Symonds, Renault’s executive director of engineering, who believes Ferrari are unlikely to find their F2005 car and Bridgestone tyres so perfectly suited to conditions in Spain.

“There is no doubt that Ferrari were the class of the field in Imola but paradoxically, the size of their performance advantage was too great to be purely down to an improvement from the car,” he said

“I think they had a combination of car and tyres that was better suited to that track, in those conditions, on that day. But that only means their package was better at that circuit; it does not automatically follow they will have the same advantage in Spain.”

Symonds conceded that the scarlet cars were likely to be Renault’s strongest competitor at the Circuit de Catalunya, but insisted that other teams should not be ruled out of contention either.

“Ferrari will be a big threat, of course, although we need to wait and see how much of their Imola performance translates to the conditions in Barcelona,” he said. “McLaren will be very competitive, Toyota should be fast there and maybe even Williams too.”

Renault head to the Spanish Grand Prix leading the constructors’ championship on 46 points. Toyota are second with 27, McLaren third with 24, while Ferrari lie fourth on 18.