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FIA Press Conference: Fernando and Flavio

NEWS STORY
31/03/2005

Q: Flavio, it has been a pretty good start to the season from where you are?
Flavio Briatore: I think so, yes. We were competitive this winter and expected to be on the podium but we never expected to be so strong. We dominated the first race with Giancarlo and the second with Fernando. We expected somebody to be stronger, but it is a surprise to see McLaren not so strong and the Ferrari not so strong, this is a big surprise.

Q: Obviously it is very early in the championship so who do you see as your big rivals?
FB: I don't know. No really. Some teams have new cars, let's see what happens. We are talking about using the old car, but in one race, Fernando had a problem and was challenged by Jarno with Toyota and Fisichella was challenged by Red Bull. This is what we are seeing at this moment.

Q: So what's the atmosphere like in the team now?
FB: You know it's the atmosphere at Renault, it's always good. Last year the atmosphere was very good, even though we had a very difficult car and last year as well sometimes there was criticism of Fernando I remembered - you know, I have a very long memory in this business - and now this year everything is perfect. Last year Fernando did an incredible job as did Jarno at the beginning, because the car was very difficult to drive and we missed the opportunities in Canada, in Spa when we had problems. The team was already strong last year. Sure, Ferrari dominated everybody last year but I don't think it was only the car. I think the tyres were also a big plus. The car is the same car this year. What we have changed is that Michelin have done a very good job in the winter and have caught Ferrari and Bridgestone. But the atmosphere in the team is the same. Sure, winning two races means there is more enthusiasm in the factory and the people are pushing much harder to keep this position, to be able to give the right car to Fernando and Giancarlo, to be competitive with everybody else. You know we are a very young team and the atmosphere in our team was always very good. We have never had aggravation, the drivers are friendly. They were friendly, Jarno and Fernando and now Fernando and Fisichella are friendly. It's a really happy team. It was before, as well. It's the result of a lot of work, done by both sides, in Paris and in London, but it's the result of everything. The drivers have improved, Fernando has another year's experience, he's still young and Fisichella comes back to us with a completely different spirit and a completely different attitude. For the moment, we are very happy.

Q: Do you think the time will come when you're going to have to manage the two drivers, when they may be racing one another? It's a very nice situation to be in…
FB: I like this kind of situation. But you know that when you have… I always say that the head is important. We have two very intelligent drivers and both are racing for the Renault team. I think this is very good, this kind of problem, plus it's magic if our two drivers are racing together. It would mean that already we have the Constructors' Championship in the pocket and afterwards really, it is quite normal to have two drivers racing. We are still racing as a sport, and team orders were forbidden, but really it's nice having two racing drivers in the team and not just one.

Q: Fernando, what do you think about that situation? It is obvious you have both won races so far.
Fernando Alonso: As Flavio said, it is nice to compete and to fight for the race with your team-mate because it means the car is more competitive than the others. But remember we only did two races, one I was penalised probably because of the rain on Saturday in Australia and the other one I won the race, so I am really confident to keep this level, both cases on the podium with different circumstances for me and good points so far in these two races.

Q: What has the reaction been like in Spain?
FA: Obviously, as usual, when you do well they over-react, I think, and when you do bad they speak too much as well, so it is a little bit too much.

Q: What is it going to be like when we get to Barcelona then?
FA: I am sure that it will be completely full, the stands, people will enjoy the race for sure and it will be like a party.

Q: This race, when did you arrive here, is there much acclimatising to do for this race?
FA: I arrived yesterday night, so not too much. It is only one hour difference and it has been all week quite hot in Europe, so the temperature is not as extreme as Malaysia and it should be okay this weekend for all the teams and drivers. It is very easy this race compared to the last one.

Q: Well, you will be surprised at what the monitors were saying earlier because they were saying 36 degrees ambient and 51 degrees track temperature, which isn't that far away from Malaysia. Were you expecting that?
FA: Yes. We were expecting this to be a little more hot on Sunday and Saturday it should be maybe a little bit hotter, and this can help our car and our tyres. The important thing is the humidity is very low compared to Malaysia and this caused problems for the teams and drivers in Sepang.

Q: So are you going to do your own work on your drinks bottle this weekend?
FA: We tested it last week and it was the first priority and everything works okay.

Q: That must be the first time a team has gone drinks bottle testing?
FA: Nah, I mean, it happened last year also. Normally the teams are in a strong position to develop the car and to forget the driver, and that is normal, because we prefer a quick car than a comfortable car. Some races have to be in between.

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