It'll be tough, but 'potential for winning is there', says Italian
With several other teams snapping at their heels, title-holders Renault have the most to lose this season. But, while the R27 seemed to lack the ultimate pace of the Ferraris and McLarens during winter testing, with Renault's flair for fruitful mid-season developments, many - including race driver Giancarlo Fisichella - remain optimistic
Q: With Renaults pre-season testing over and the first race less than a fortnight away, how are you feeling as you wait for what will probably be your most important season?
Giancarlo Fisichella: I am prepared for a very tough season. We have had time to assess our potential and the one of our competitors so we know it is going to be very tough!
Q: How satisfied are you with the R27? Last year's car won eight out of 18 races - has the new machine got the same potential?
GF: The car is good, eventually better than the R26. So the potential for winning is there, but my impression is that 2007 is not going to be a two-way battle between Ferrari and Renault, we could also have McLaren and BMW joining us in the podium fight. So to win eight races is a very optimistic thought.
Q: So, while in 2006 the championship battle was between Renault and Ferrari, this year there are several more podium aspirants. Where do you see Renault in this more challenging context?
GF: At the moment certainly as a title contender, though we must find a little bit more speed in the first couple of races. But much will depend on future developments mid season - and of how fast we can react to the improvements of the other teams.
Q: Having said that, which teams do you see as the biggest challengers?
GF: Ferrari, McLaren, BMW. In this order.
Q: Renault was Michelins poster team. Have you found a good balance yet with the Bridgestone tyres?
GF: Yes, but we can find more. We need more testing and more tyres, but as this will not be possible we have to play with set-ups on the Friday before the race.
Q: For two years you have been overshadowed by your world championship-winning team mate Fernando Alonso. This year, you team up with Heikki Kovalainen - a rookie. Are you ready for the top spot on the podium?
GF: I am always ready and in the past two years I have been working for the team rather than for myself. Everyone at Renault is happy with my contribution to the manufacturers' (championship).
Q: It would be far too difficult to make predictions of how the whole season could unfold, so lets try the first three flyaway races. After the winning performance of the Renaults last year in Bahrain, Malaysia and Australia, it seems the team suits these three tracks with warmer climates. What are you expecting to happen?
GF: I do not like to look into the crystal ball. We will go on the track with the intention to beat everyone. Then we will know!
Q: Considering you have the benefit of being the experienced driver in a team that won both titles over two consecutive years, what do you hope to achieve in 2007?
GF: Every year I go for the title and my goal is to be a title contender till the end of the season.