Giancarlo Fisichella, the Italian driver of the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team, is confident that the R26 can be the machine he needs to fight for race wins. Starting in this weekend in Bahrain. Fisico also talks about the impact of the regulation changes, the R26 and his dream to win the championship.
Interview with Giancarlo Fisichella
Giancarlo, 2005 was your most successful season in Formula 1 so far. Can you explain your motivation for 2006?
"My motivation is very high. I am very pleased to be with a great team like Renault, the world champions. Also, I know I am driving a very quick car this year. My target is to fight for the championship, and I am optimistic I can do that."
What has been the impact of the regulation changes, on the driver’s role?
"Obviously we have had some big changes: we have lost almost 200 bhp going from the V10 to the V8, which you feel straight away. The team has done a great job with the V8 engine, and it has good power and driveability. On the chassis side, we have made a big step, and with the Michelin tyres as well. You can see that because we are back to almost the same lap-times as we were doing with last year’s car."
What is the R26 like to drive, compared to its predecessor?
"It is very similar. Last year’s car was very comfortable for the drivers, and so is the R26. In fact, I am even happier in this car. The rear is more stable under braking and in the middle of the corner. We have made a step forward on the traction too. That all means I can drive the car how I want to, and gives me even more confidence."
Tell us a little about the venue for the opening race…
"Bahrain is one of the new generation circuits, with excellent facilities. I have liked it ever since I drove there for the first time. There are some challenging corners and you have to attack the braking zones, which I enjoy. I didn’t have much luck there last year, but I believe we will be strong in 2006."
The engineers say it is particularly demanding for the brakes?
"Yes, it is one of the worst circuits. The wear can be very high, especially in the race, so we need to be careful how we brake, and where, to make sure we don’t have any problems – while making sure we are not costing lap-time either."
Which teams do you expect to see fighting for the win?
"The tests showed us that Honda are very strong, and McLaren have made a big step forward. We don’t know about Ferrari because we haven’t done much running with them, but Renault are definitely among the favourites."
In 2005, you kicked off the season with a win. More of the same in 2006?
"Obviously, I hope so. But honestly, that’s not the most important thing. In 2006, I want to win the rest of the season as well, and start scoring a lot of points. It didn’t happen for me in 2005, but this year, I want to fight for the title."