Heikki Kovalainen is playing down the high expectations of him next season, and has refused to name himself as a winner when the season begins at Australia in March. “I am not thinking of going to Melbourne and getting pole and winning,” he admitted. “I just want to do clean laps and do the maximum.
“I want to score points and finish the race first of all. We want to be regularly on the podium towards the end of the season, but who knows – it could happen early.”
Flavio Briatore, Renault’s chief, has admitted that the defection of Alonso to rivals McLaren was a blow for the team. It is obvious that it is still playing on his mind – at the launch of the new Renault, he mentioned Alonso 30 times and he tripped over his words by saying “We will give Ferna…” before correcting himself and saying “Fisichella and Heikki a good car to fight for the podiums.”
Briatore went on to say that Kovalainen was their second choice after Alonso, and that he felt Fisichella was the sixth or seventh best driver in the field. He also explained that he thought Renault was the most liked team in Formula 1 – because they keep the doors open for everybody.
Meanwhile, Fisichella was also talking about Alonso. He believes that the World Champion will take time before he is up to speed at his new team, and he believes it will be a few races before we see Alonso challenging for podiums and wins again.
Renault will be doing more street demos later in 2007 with events rumoured to be taking place in Mexico, Poland, Dubai, Romania and South Africa. They will also be capitalising on their World Champion status and will be releasing a special edition Renault Clio road car called the ‘Renault Sport 197 F1 team’. The car will feature yellow metallic paint, special alloy wheels, formula 1 style decals and a numbered plaque.