After his first test last week in Barcelona, Giancarlo Fisichella sat down to share his thoughts about his progress so far, and his first impressions of the Renault team.
Q: Giancarlo, how did your first test with the team go?
Giancarlo Fisichella: It was nice to be back! I was very excited when I went to the factory several weeks ago, and I was happy to get in the car and start working. There was a lot to adapt to - the engine, tyres and chassis were all new to me. We had some software problems on the first morning but after that, we were working on the set-up to improve it for my style of driving. We certainly went in the right direction, and I was feeling much more comfortable by the end of the week. At this stage, it is not about being quickest or slowest on the timesheets: I just need to learn as much as I can.
Q: What impressed you most about the car?
GF: The engine was powerful and pulled strongly from low revs. On the chassis side, mechanically it was very good and the traction is impressive. The handling was a bit inconsistent at high speed but we made some progress during the week, although I want to work more to find exactly the right feeling for my driving style.
Q: How was it to return to the team after three years?
GF: Honestly, it was very easy - at least 50% of the mechanics are the same and I worked with my engineer (Alan Permane) for four years when I was with Benetton. I know his character well, and he knows mine, so I am glad we are working together again. The atmosphere in the team is the same as when I left, it has the same character, but the attitude has changed. You can feel that they have higher targets than they did three years ago, and are working even more to achieve them.
Q: Do you think you have changed in the time since you left?
GF: Yes, I think so. I have more experience, which is very important. In terms of speed, I think I am as quick as ever, but I have learned a lot in the last three years. Even when I had a bad car I was pushing 101%, and this means I can also give good technical answers to the team - I understand which direction we need to push in. Also, in the races this year with Sauber, I got used to doing long stints and looking after the tyres, pushing hard in the strategic moments of the race. I think that will be valuable experience in order to be successful under the tyre regulations for 2005.
Q: There is still a long way to go, but how do you feel after the opening test?
GF: Mentally, I am very positive. For a driver, it is important to be in a top team, and to have a chance of winning. That may bring more pressure, but I don't mind. When I have had pressure on my shoulders in the past I have been quick, and I can already see there is fantastic potential here. It is a perfect time to be with Renault - they want to win races and I do too.