The first testing session after the winter break has been scheduled for 10 January at Jerez and Renault has committed to have their new car, the R26, ready for a waiting Giancarlo Fisichella on the day.
The V8 was first fired up in a complete car just before Christmas and Renault have been running stationary tests ever since to ensure that oil, water and electronics systems fucntioned as specified. Renault reports that it all ran like clockwork. The Renault will be only the third definitive 2006 car to make its track debut, despite it being the last V8 engine to do so.
What’s more, two chassis will be running from the team’s second test of the winter to achieve maximum mileage with the car and drivers ahead of the opening race. In 2005, the early races allowed the team to build a crucial platform in the race for the world championship. The aim will be to repeat that feat in 2006. “Those early races really set the scene for the year,” explains Pat Symonds. “Each race may be worth ten points in absolute, terms, but that ignores the human component. The first win buoys the whole team, and confidence grows from there. The maths may say the early races have the same importance as any other, but in terms of the team’s self-esteem, I would say they are worth half as much again.”