Flavio Briatore: "Renault is the surprise of 2006"

Flavio Briatore:  
Filed under:
Motorsport, Renault
on 03/28/2006

Source: Renault F1

The Renault F1 Team's Managing Director is looking forward to more success in Melbourne...

Flavio, what is your mood as you arrive in Melbourne for the 2006 Australian GP?
I’m happy. Melbourne is a favourite race for everybody and we are happy to be there. In terms of our performance, we knew we needed to be fighting for the championship again, to be defending it with a strong competition. We have shown that Renault is at the top again in 2006, and that we will be fighting all the way to the end to try and win it.

And what is your opinion of the show so far this season?
I think we have seen a fantastic show. After the first race, we saw Ferrari were back, and that is good for everybody in Formula 1. To have Fernando fighting with Michael increased the TV share everywhere, because Michael and Ferrari are fantastic assets for Formula 1.

What about the new qualifying format?
I think the knockout system is very good, and spectacular for the spectators. But I am still not happy with the first part of Q3. At the moment, we are going round for no reason, and it doesn’t make sense for the people or for our image with the environment. I think the final session should be 15 minutes long, and you fuel beforehand. You then qualify, and whatever load you finish the session with, then you go to parc fermé and start the race like that. What we are doing now doesn’t make sense for the show.

What has surprised you so far?
For me, Renault is the surprise this year. All through the winter, we only heard reasons why we would not be on top. And we have shown that we know how to work properly, to adapt to the rules and manage our season the right way. People didn’t expect us to still be at the front, and we are.

Do you already have a feel for how the title fight might turn out?
I think we can expect to see four drivers fighting for the championship. Fernando, of course. Michael if the car is right. Kimi. And Fisichella. He is strong in the team this year, and we have already seen what he can do in Malaysia.

But Giancarlo had a difficult season to prove himself last year…
Yes, but last year, 80% of the problems he had were our fault. He arrived last year without any experience of a top team, and he realised it was a different game, with a lot of pressure. This year, he has settled down, we can see he is more relaxed, and he has been very quick. He needs the luck, yes, but that comes when you are strong and take risks, because you believe in yourself. I think he has started doing it.

There were also suggestions that the early announcement of Fernando’s departure would destabilise the team…
I haven’t seen any change at all in Fernando. He is still hungry to win,. we saw that in Bahrain and Malaysia. Last year, he only made one mistake all year, and if anything, he is even more mature this season. But he is the same guy, with 100% commitment to the team.

Of course, speculation will soon begin concerning which drivers you will sign for 2007…The important thing is to have a competitive team, to keep Renault strong in Formula 1. When the team is strong enough, then you attract strong drivers. We still have sixteen races to go, and people will try and talk about this every weekend. But we won’t do it in public. We will only talk about our drivers when the decision has been taken.

Renault was also at the centre of speculation over its long-term commitment to the sport during the winter…Renault is in the same situation as all the manufacturers and in that group, we are in a strong position. At the moment, all the parties are looking for the right compromise in the negotiations and Renault, like the other manufacturers, is waiting for an agreement. I think it is normal that any manager wants to know the basic business plan of the industry – the investment we need, and the term of the investment. But this position has nothing unique for Renault. In the meantime, we have won two world championships, and the first two races.

The team is often cited as the most efficient in the sport. Where does that come from?
We invest every penny in the business, but it is also about how we operate. If you have an unlimited budget, it can be like going into a restaurant where the menu is fantastic. So you have a bit of that, of bit of this, and you end up with nothing. The way we work, is like going shopping. You know what you want for dinner. So you go any buy the ingredients, and you get the result you want. That is what we did again this winter, working the right way with the new rules, and delivering the right results.

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