As testing goes into its final sessions prior to the Australian Grand Prix, Renault is the team that seems to have been attracting attention over the winter. Williams, BAR, Ferrari and McLaren have broken lap records at various circuits since the...
As testing goes into its final sessions prior to the Australian Grand Prix, Renault is the team that seems to have been attracting attention over the winter. Williams, BAR, Ferrari and McLaren have broken lap records at various circuits since the end of last season but Renault is the one currently earning praise from its peers.McLaren. "I see Williams and Renault are really strong, probably more than McLaren," he said. Teammate Rubens Barrichello agrees: "Renault is the team that has made the biggest impression," the Brazilian commented. "The car is fast on a single lap and very consistent in race simulations."
Team boss Frank Williams thinks Spaniard Fernando Alonso could be a challenger for the title this season. "Leaving aside our drivers," he said in regard to likely contenders for 2004, "I would say Michael Schumacher is the favourite and maybe Alonso has a good chance. The Renault is a very impressive car and I think they might cause big problems for everyone."
Jaguar's Mark Webber was another with good words to say about the team. "Renault is looking strong on long runs," he remarked. "The Williams is a good car but Renault is strongest over a race distance."
Renault's director of engineering Pat Symonds has played down the praise: "We are in reasonable shape, but we are not at the top yet and I don't think people should be expecting us to be," he told Autosport. "If you look at the average time, everyone is very close, but what fuel load did people have in?"
Jarno Trulli, who just finished a week's testing with the Renault R24 at Jerez, is pleased with the new car but cautious about prediciting immediate results in competition. "You always need to be careful talking about performance during the winter, but I think we are competitive, especially on the long runs," he commented.
Many people think that Schumacher will win the title again this year, although Kimi Raikkonen and the pair of Williams drivers are also favourites. Which team, however, will take the constructors' seems a harder prediction. Ferrari, Williams and McLaren are currently the "big three" at the front but with Renault powering up, could one of them be deposed?