There are just a few days to go before the first race of 2006, the Bahrain Grand Prix, and the drivers are as impatient to be back on track as the fans are to see them. Renault heads into the new season determined to defend its titles and ...
There are just a few days to go before the first race of 2006, the Bahrain Grand Prix, and the drivers are as impatient to be back on track as the fans are to see them. Renault heads into the new season determined to defend its titles and world champion Fernando Alonso is ready to return to action.
"After a whole winter off, I want to see the people in the grandstands, and feel the emotion of Formula One again," Alonso said. "But also because Renault are the world champions, and the whole team is very motivated because of this."
Although winter testing is not necessarily the best indicator of a team's form, Renault is widely thought to have been quick and reliable while preparing for this season. "I think we have done what we needed to," Alonso said in regard to the winter work.
"The car is ready to race: it has done a lot of laps, on all types of circuits and conditions. Now is the time to measure ourselves against the others in the first race. We have done the maximum possible, so I am relaxed going into the season."
Alonso's teammate Giancarlo Fisichella has confidence in the R26. "Last year's car was very comfortable for the drivers, and so is the R26," the Italian commented. "The rear is more stable under braking and in the middle of the corner. We have made a step forward on the traction too."
Last year Fisichella won the season opener and while he hopes to do the same again this coming weekend, his long-term aim is, naturally, to give his teammate some competition for the championship. "I want to fight for the title," he stated.
Fisichella won't be the only one trying to wrest the title from Alonso. Last year's arch-rivals McLaren have perhaps not been quite as strong as Renault over the winter but Kimi Raikkonen is convinced the MP4-21 is quick -- but he was cautious about how McLaren will fare at the Sakhir circuit.
"The car has felt good on track and is quick, which can be seen from the improvements in lap times of more than three seconds," said the Finn. "Of course I want to carry on from our performance last year and be challenging for race wins, however we will only see where we are in Bahrain after qualifying."
Alonso believes that McLaren will be one of the front running teams in Bahrain, along with Honda, Ferrari, and, of course, Renault. "For sure, Renault are the ones to beat because we are the world champions, and I am confident we have done a good job," he said.