Thursday, February 21, 2008

Renault has failed

Fernando Alonso believes Renault has failed to make up enough ground on last season’s top three teams to go to the first race in Australia in contention for a podium.

The former world champion squad has targeted making it back to the front of the field with its new R28 in 2008 after slumping into the midfield last year.

However its returning superstar is pessimistic about its chances of producing an immediate turnaround in three weeks' time following the relative pace of its closest rivals in pre-season – and is predicting it will be in a fight for the lower points positions.

"We are far, far away," Alonso was quoted as saying by Spain’s AS newspaper on Thursday.

"I think it's looking like at the end of last year: two Ferraris, two McLarens and two BMWs, and if everything goes like that, you can almost only fight for seventh place.

"Thinking about the podium would be too optimistic right now, but then you arrive in the first grand prix, you start warming up in practice, your morale starts going up and you think you can be on the podium.

"But right now, thinking coldly, reaching the podium is a dream.”

The double world champion admitted at the launch of the R28 last month that Renault needed to find one second in pace during the rest of pre-season before it could challenge Ferrari and McLaren.

But although he concedes it has not made up that ground yet, he points to BMW’s recent step forward in form as an example of how things can soon change.

“In F1 everything changes very quickly,” he said.

“Just two or three weeks ago BMW was a little further back, we were near them.

“Now they are quite close to McLaren.

“Everything changes very quickly.”

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