After spending two years in the shadow of two times World Champion Fernando Alonso, all eyes seems to be focussed on Giancarlo Fisichella, the Italian driver of the ING Renault F1 Team, to collect the World Championship for Renault.
"I am expecting very good things for the new season. Renault is the only top team with a stable technical structure, and they know how to design winning cars. For me, it is the third year with the team, and I feel very comfortable in this environment. I have a new team-mate in Heikki, and we already have a good understanding. The spirit is strong in the team after two very successful years, so we are feeling optimistic. When you have just won two world championships in a row, I think that’s the only way to be!"How confident are you that you can step up a level and challenge for the championship?
"My objective is to be in the fight this season. That is how I have started every season with Renault, but for different reasons, things have not gone my way in the past two years. I have a fantastic opportunity for 2007. There are many changes all the way through the grid, and many people will talk about a new era for Formula 1. For me, though, it is not a new beginning: I am carrying on where I left off in 2006. I took a step up in performance last year, and my clear goal is to do so again in 2007."Will the stability of the team be an asset during the new season?
"Yes I think so – but we are not afraid of changes either. It is good to be starting the year in a stable situation, and to be able to build on my relationship with the team. That continuity means we can be competitive from the very beginning of the year, and we have seen in 2005 and 2006 how important it is to get a good start in the opening races. We have changes to cope with as well, especially the change to Bridgestone tyres. But in the last seasons, we have seen that Renault is very good when it comes to adapting to new challenges. I am confident it will be the same again this year."You have already had the opportunity to run on the Bridgestone tyres before Christmas. What were your first impressions?
"Those first runs were important to get a feeling for the tyres and their characteristics, but we will only know where we stand when we start working with the new car. The Bridgestone tyres are very different to the products we used last year: there is less grip, and they need a different setup to get the best from them. We have already established a good relationship with Bridgestone, though, and I know from working with them in the past, that they are a very professional company. I think we will be in strong shape when we reach Melbourne."In the past two seasons, you were team-mate to the world champion. Now, you have a rookie driver alongside you. Does that change your role?
"In terms of the job I am trying to do, no. My goal is always to push to the limit, to get the maximum from the car – and to do the best possible. That doesn’t change depending on who your team-mate is. But for sure, my experience can be very important during 2007. I am now the third most-experienced driver on the grid, and in a season where other teams have some big changes, I think that will be important. People shouldn’t under-estimate the motivation within the team as well: Renault know how to win race and world championships."The team has worked very hard during the winter, In many ways, the eyes of Formula 1 will be on you in 2007, as the senior driver in the world champion team. How will you manage with that expectation?
"I am hungry for success this year, and very determined. Just like in any sport, there are always critics out there who doubt me, and who don’t think I can do the job. That is normal, it is their job to have an opinion. For me, though, that is not important. People in the team trust me, and have the confidence that I can do a good job. I have trained very hard this winter, and if the Renault car is quick and reliable like in the last few years, then there is a fantastic opportunity for me to seize. Every driver starts the season equal, on zero points. I am aiming to do some good tests, and to feel totally comfortable that we can have a strong start to the season in Melbourne."Source Renaultf1 Pictures are available in our gallery:
http://www.f1technical.net/gallery/v/Re ... 27/Launch/