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Renault Tomorrow and Yesterday

A flurry of news and views from Renault has revealed that they intend to win the championships again in 2007. Fisichella has been assuring fans that he will be champion and Flavio Briatore has stated that Fizzy has the ability to do it. “If he doesn’t step on it this year, we’ll make him do it,” said Flavio.

Renault

Which sounds like an ultimatum to me, especially as Renault Technical Director, Bob Bell, agrees that it is a make-or-break year for Fisichella. Nelson Piquet Jnr waits hungrily in the wings to see whether he breaks.

Perhaps more interesting than all this optimism (par for the course before the season opener), are Briatore’s conclusions after the recent tests on Bridgestone tires. He says he understands now why Ferrari instigated the ban on mass dampers halfway through the 2006 season; the dampers just don’t work with Bridgestone tires.

It amazes me that Ferrari’s influence on the FIA seems to be accepted now; other teams raise no eyebrows at Flavio’s sometimes pointed remarks, almost as if it were common knowledge that the rules are made with Ferrari’s benefit in mind. Of course, we all know they are, but it shows a certain defeatism that no-one even bothers to protest anymore.

I love the FIA’s response to any such protests: Formula One’s governing body has dismissed suggestions that world champions Renault have been penalised in recent races to favour Ferrari and Michael Schumacher*. No discussion, you will note; just dismissal. If they were to discuss the matter, Bernie Ecclestone’s open admission that “Ferrari is the only team to get political support from the FIA” might be mentioned. And that could be embarrassing.

Although this comfortable relationship between the FIA and Ferrari has existed for decades, it could be about to change. Now that the governing body has decided to cast its lot with the manufacturers, it may find itself with many more customers to please than just FIAT/Ferrari. All is sweetness and light at the moment but I wonder what will happen when some of the manufacturers see the future differently from others. It’s a difficult business, keeping an alliance of competitors together.

*Autosport magazine.

2 Responses to “Renault Tomorrow and Yesterday”

  1. Agreed, Renault will not stand another mediocre year from Fisi. I’d suggest the lack of reaction to Briatore’s comments is more to do with him being a blowhard than resignation on the part of, well, everyone else. He makes this sort of accusation so frequently, all who hear them take it with a pinch of salt whether it has it’s basis in fact or not.
    While Ferrari may have spent years snuggling up to the FIA, it didn’t do them much good even, with the best driver in the field, for the last two seasons. Renault face a huge challenge to retain the Constructors with a weakened driver lineup. Ferrari have had too many personnel changes for it to act like the same team. It’s going to be a cracking season.

  2. Hah, a blowhard – the word does fit Flavio, I admit. And you’re probably right that others don’t take too much notice of the guy because he protests too much. But no smoke without fire, say I – and I think he’s often right. After all, you don’t win two straight double championships by being wrong all the time.

    As for Ferrari snuggling up to the FIA, it’s been going on for fifty years but even more so in the last twenty. In the 90s there were open admissions from members of the FIA that the sport could do with Ferrari winning the championship again. And all the rule-bending worked in the end, although it took German efficiency to make the team get down to the task. The last two years have been the result of one team getting everything right, rolling with the punches from the FIA and a driver who may turn out to be better than M. Schumacher.

    I agree that next season will be a cracking one – the big three all with changes to cope with and two or three of the midfield teams looking very strong at the end of 2007. What a cat fight that’s going to be!

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