New renault worries rivals

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Impressive testing performances by the new Renault Formula One car, the R24, has caused a number of rival team members to predict a strong performance for both of their drivers this season, with Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello and Williams team-boss Frank Williams selecting Fernando Alonso as a title contender.

Williams team principal Frank Williams, who normally doesn't give too much away about his rivals, has predicted that apart from his drivers, Ralf Schumacher and Juan Montoya, he predicts that either Michael Schumacher or Fernando Alonso could claim the title.

"Leaving aside our drivers, I would say Michael is the favourite and maybe Alonso - the Renault is a very impressive car," Williams said, before playing down McLaren's chances following a couple of poor tests.

"It's difficult to say where McLaren are at the moment," Head said. "Some of their long runs don't look that special. We've heard that there are maybe some engine bugs still around and maybe they have been running with the power turned down.

"But I've learned over many years never to underestimate a team like McLaren."

Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello has also noticed Renault's performances in testing. "Renault are the team who have made the biggest impression," Barrichello said during testing at Mugello last week. "The car is fast on the single lap and very consistent in race simulations."