Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella talks about his second consecutive season as driver for a world champion team, and his hopes for the future. Q: Giancarlo, you finished fourth in the world championship this year, the best result of your career....
Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella talks about his second consecutive season as driver for a world champion team, and his hopes for the future.
Q: Giancarlo, you finished fourth in the world championship this year, the best result of your career. The team won the constructors' championship for the second year in a row. Are you pleased with the result?
Giancarlo Fisichella: I think I can be satisfied with my season, yes. Fourth place in the championship is the best result of my career, and I was on the podium five times compared to three last year. I won a race in Malaysia, and scored nearly 25% more points than in 2005. That is a very strong rate of progress, and I intend to maintain it next year so I can fight for the championship.
Q: How important will it be for you to improve further in 2007?
GF: I think it is what you have to aim for every year, as a racing driver: you can never settle for second best. I know there have been some critical voices during the year, but the simple fact is that if in 2006, I had driven to the level I did in 2005, then we would have lost the constructors' championship. But we won this year after a very tough battle with Ferrari, and that was also because I raised my game in spite of some difficult periods. The final result was fantastic for the whole team, but I know I could have done better on some occasions too. Those are the things I want to work on this winter in preparation for 2007.
Q: Looking back over the year, what are the best memories?
GF: For me, it has to be Malaysia. That was a weekend when everything was perfect for me: I got pole, I led the race for nearly every lap and took the win. Fernando was on the podium in second place, and we took the first Renault 1-2 in nearly 25 years. That was a perfect race in very difficult conditions, with the heat and humidity, and a perfect result. It was a fantastic feeling.
Q: The battle in 2006 was much tougher than in 2005. For you, it had added spice because you were up against an Italian team... Did that complicate matters for you?
GF: Not really, no. I think that whatever your nationality is, a battle with Ferrari is more intense because of their name, and their history. They have a special place in Formula 1, and that means it is even more important when you beat them. Honestly, fighting with Ferrari is a positive thing for me, because it means all of Italy is following the races... and that helps bring me more support too. I think it has been a great year for Italian motor sport.
Q: From the outside, the R26 looked like it had every quality a driver could want... Was that how it felt to drive?
GF: It was a fantastic car. From the very first laps we did, the car was easy to drive and consistent. And the engine was reliable and powerful at the first test, and carried on getting better and better as the season went on. By the end of the year, it was one of the best out there, and I think this will be a very strong point for our team next year when the engine specifications are fixed. The team has produced great cars in the last year, and I am confident they will make it three in a row in 2007.
Q: Next year, the eyes of Formula 1 will on you, along with the expectation of seeing you lead the world champion team...
GF: People will be paying close attention next year, and that is normal. It will be my third year with the team, which will allow me to be more comfortable, and more competitive. People will form opinions and make judgements on our chances, but that is their job. My focus is on what happens inside the team. Flavio has won 7 world championships, and he believes in me. Pat Symonds has won seven championships, and he believes in me. The team is behind me and we work well together. Now, I need to step up another level, like I did for this year. And I believe I can do it.
Q: What will be the strengths of the team next year?
GF: Stability and continuity. Every other big team has big changes coming up, with people who have left on the technical side, or with people leaving now. At Renault, our technical team is stable -- and they have proved they can design a winning package. I already know my team-mate Heikki very well, and we have a strong relationship that will be very productive. Those are the things that really matter in Formula 1, when you want to maintain a successful level. And they are the reasons why I am feeling very confident for 2007.
Q: There will also be significant technical challenges to handle, notably adapting to Bridgestone tyres...
GF: It will be a big change, but I am looking forward to it. I am familiar with the Bridgestone tyres from 2004 and before, so that is a good point for me. And I know that the team will adapt really well because it is one of the strengths at Renault. In 2005, we had new aero and tyre rules and we came out on top. In 2006, we completed changed the engine and Renault stayed at the top. For 2007, we are changing tyre manufacturer, and I think we can do a better job than our rivals again.