Renault's star driver, two times world champion Fernando Alonso claims the new R28 is a second off the pace of rivals McLaren and Ferrari. The team is aiming to get to the front but the 26 year-old Spaniard revealed at the launch of the all new...
The team is aiming to get to the front but the 26 year-old Spaniard revealed at the launch of the all new car that there is still much work to be done.
Alonso, speaking to reporters at the launch in Paris, commented, "At the moment, there is not any possibility to fight for podiums or wins, or things like that, so that is the first priority of this winter tests and the first race.
"To close the gap, and to be behind them two or three tenths is not such a big problem. But to be one second or eight tenths, like we are at the moment, is a little bit too much."
The French team may have been world constructors' champions in 2005 and '06, with Alonso completing the clean sweep taking both drivers' titles, but in Formula One, things change at a unrelenting pace.
The team failed to match its previous glory in the 2007 season. From the first race in Melbourne it was clear the team had lost its domination of the sport. The cars finished 5th and 10th in Australia.
Things did not improve and the team finished on the podium just once with a second place in Japan for Heikki Kovalainen. The team ended up in 3rd place in the constructors' standings which may not sound too bad, but it was a distant third and was only after McLaren was excluded from the championship constructors title race.
Alonso, in contrast, was very much part of the three-way drivers' title fight, driving a McLaren. With a point between the drivers it was one of the most exciting finishes in recent memory. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen took the title with teammates Lewis Hamilton and Alonso tied in points with the Brit having the edge due to better results.
Alonso left Renault at the end of 2006 but returned to the French team after just one season at McLaren. The Spaniard parted company with the British outfit after a turbulent season.
Reflecting on his season at McLaren he said, "I was lucky to be for the third consecutive time fighting for the title, and that is what a driver wants. It was a difficult season, but I was lucky also."
He still believes the move to McLaren was the right thing to do. "Last year Renault was struggling to get into Q3 and McLaren was fighting for the title. So I had the opportunity to fight for the championship last year and I don't regret anything," he said.
The Renault F1 Team were clearly missing Alonso in 2007. The Spaniard really got the best out of the car in 2005 when he was rarely off the podium taking 7 wins, five 2nd places and was 3rd three times. In 2006 he again won seven times with seven 2nd placements. In contrast teammate Giancarlo Fisichella was nowhere near Alonso at that time. He may have crossed the line ahead of Alonso five times in the two years the pair, but in most races he was a long way behind the flying Spaniard.
"Renault last year was not competitive enough and that is the thing that we must change for this year," Alonso commented. "The team is very focused on changing this and they work very hard on this new car to sort out the problems they had last year, and I am here to help and to give my experience to them.
"All together we hope to work in the same direction and get Renault back in the fight. It won't be easy because all the other teams improve as well, and if Renault were one second behind last year we need to recover that.
"We will see what we can do. We need to be clever and we need to do the right things to the car to improve it. That is the target for this February's testing," he said with determination.