Could 2007 finally be the Italian driver's year?
For several seasons, Renaults Giancarlo Fisichella has confidently predicted he has the drivers title in his sights. But after being eclipsed by former team mate Fernando Alonso for two consecutive years, 2007 could well see his dreams finally turn into reality. With recent test sessions suggesting the Renaults have adapted well to the switch to Bridgestone tyres - and with many of his immediate rivals having to make the transition to new teams - the Italian is brimming with confidence
Q: The Renaults have performed well during the final 2006 tests, improving considerably from Barcelona to the second Jerez session. What was your impression of the teams progress?
Giancarlo Fisichella: The 2006 tests were only good for the drivers to get accustomed to the new tyre and to try behaviour changes by changing the set ups. We will not know how good we are until the first event in Australia, but I guess we will know more as soon as we drive the new R27 in January.
Q: At the moment, there is much talk about which of last years front-runners will have the advantage in Melbourne. Flavio Briatore pointed out that despite the switch to Bridgestone tyres, Renault is by far the most stable team when it comes to staff continuity. What do you believe will give Renault the edge?
GF: The team is quite incredible and they have done a great job in 2005 and 2006 so I do not see why we should do badly in 2007. The championship though is going to be much more even - making it more interesting for the fans.
Q: There has also been much talk about this season possibly being your last opportunity for world championship glory
GF: I am under pressure because I have to lead the team. I am comfortable with pressure and I have lived with it all my life so for me it is just another challenge, that's all.
Q: You have expressed confidence that 2007 could be a title-winning year for you. You have obviously analysed your situation and that of your competitors, so what is it that gives you this confidence?
GF: I say so every year because in 2005 and 2006 I have been driving a very good car. Then things turn out differently, but in retrospective I have made a very few mistakes.
Q: Heikki Kovalainen will be your team mate next year. During the two recent Jerez sessions, Kovalainen was almost always quicker than you. Although nobody should read too much into these times, it was surprising
GF: Yet I was faster then him in the first Jerez session. You see at the tests we do our job and we never chase lap times. Sometimes we have different set-ups or work on different programmes. Badoer was quicker than Massa at Ferrari. Do you think that Luca is going to replace Felipe just because he was quicker at the test?
Q: Will there be a driver hierarchy in place from the start of the 2007 season or will the results of the first races decide who the teams number one is?
GF: We know I start as the leader because I have more experience, but we will both have the same equipment, no doubt. Other than that only performance will tell.
Q: The new car will be officially presented at the end of the month, but there are test sessions in mid-January. Will you test with the R26? And if so, can you afford to start testing the new car so late?
GF: I think everyone will be surprised!