2007 is Giancarlo Fisichella’s last chance to shine in a Renault car, according to Bob Bell.
The French squad’s chassis technical director told the London-based The Times newspaper that, in the absence of former world championship-winning teammate Fernando Alonso, next year is “make or break” for the likeable Italian 33-year-old.
“If he doesn’t find it this year, then I doubt if he ever will,” Bell said.
“We will give him the best equipment we humanly can and all the support we humanly can and see where that takes us.”
Renault’s first post-Alonso driver lineup, also featuring rookie Heikki Kovalainen in 2007, has been criticised for lacking true star quality. Kovalainen’s test driver replacement, Nelson Piquet Jr, is already quoted as positioning for Fisichella’s seat in 2008.
But despite setting up 2007 as Fisichella’s last chance after joining Renault two years ago, Bell insisted that the Roman should not be written off.
He added: “We will certainly start the season working completely on the assumption that Fisi is as capable of winning the world championship as Fernando or anybody else working at that level.”
In 2005 and 2006, Fisichella won two grands prix to back-to-back champion Alonso’s fourteen.
Team boss Flavio Briatore, though, agreed that his countryman can “take another step” in 2007.
“From the outside, people will doubt him and criticise,” said the Italian, referring to Fisichella. “But inside the team, we have the confidence he will step up to a new level.”