Dassas cautious on Renault’s hopes for ’07

Wed, 29 November 2006, 03:28

Renault’s F1 president Alain Dassas has given a cautious appraisal of the team’s prospects for 2007.

The French squad secured back to back triumphs with Fernando Alonso in 2005 and 2006, but the Spanish driver has signed to switch to McLaren. Dassas is also concerned that Ferrari will benefit from Michelin teams’ conversion to Bridgestone rubber.

“I think that Ferrari has the advantage of knowing the tyres already,” he told the Spanish newspaper Diario As, “and I see McLaren as having the best driver (Alonso).”

Surprisingly, Dassas gushed about the McLaren bound Alonso, despite the fact that he will be driving for a rival team next season.

He added: “Unlike some people, I think that Fernando is even better than Michael Schumacher. If he ever returns to us, it will be in several years, and it will be a question of money — a lot of money!”

Dassas expressed relief that Toyota’s formerly Bridgestone clad Ricardo Zonta will be a test driver for Renault in 2007, but nonetheless called the change of tyres a ‘problem’.

“The fact that Red Bull will use our motors next year can also be helpful for us,” he said. “The tyres remain a problem. Everyone is talking about Ferrari being in an advantageous position so for us it is absolutely crucial that every team is treated equally.”

Dassas said that Giancarlo Fisichella will be able to perform ‘much better’ without Alonso in the other car.

And referring to Alonso’s replacement Heikki Kovalainen, he added: “The Finn is very fast, not as fast as Fernando, but fast. The issue is that he does not have the necessary experience so it will take a few races for him to get used to everything.”


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