Renault confirmed on June 15th that it has extended its contract with Giancarlo Fisichella and the Italian will race for the team in 2007. Renault is one of the first top teams to confirm a driver for next year; until now only McLaren had announced its signing of Renault's current world champion Fernando Alonso.
"It was very important for me to know my future as soon as possible in the season," said Fisichella. "I am delighted to be staying at Renault next year, and to have the opportunity to see my hard work with the team over the past two seasons come to fruition."
"I want to thank the Renault F1 Team and the Renault Group for the trust they have placed in me. This clear vision for the future means I can focus 100% on the job at hand: retaining the constructors' championship with Renault in 2006 and finishing as high as possible in the drivers' standings."
Renault managing director Flavio Briatore commented: "We are extremely pleased to continue working with Giancarlo next year. He was an integral part of our championship success last year; he has upped his game significantly for 2006, making the team even stronger; we believe he can do it again for 2007."
"It is important for Renault to maintain continuity as we move into next year, and Giancarlo's integration with the team is now perfect. What's more, his experience with the team over two championship campaigns will be an invaluable asset. We will have ambitious targets for next season, and Giancarlo is capable of achieving them."
Who will be in the other race seat is a hotly debated topic. Renault test driver Heikki Kovalainen is a favourite to step up to competition and some suggest that he has already signed a race deal. Kimi Raikkonen has been linked with Renault but a move to Ferrari seems the more popular theory in regard to the Finn.
With this announcement we might see the driver market, which has been a hotbed of rumour for quite some time, start to sort itself out. McLaren has yet to confirm who will race alongside Alonso next year and there could be vacancies at Ferrari, Toyota and elsewhere. Get ready for silly-season to go into overdrive…