Renault Confident of Catching Bmw Sauber

By: Anthony Fontanelle

Giancarlo Fisichella is confident that French Renault can take third place off BMW in this season's constructors' championship.

Although the French team entered the 2007 season with the intent of retaining both World titles, a difficult first half has seen the Renault's goal revised to catching BMW for third place. "It is fair to say that the last two races were a bit disappointing, all the more so because they were our home races," said Fisi. "We knew that it would be a tough battle with BMW: all of the teams are making progress, and our challenge is to do so faster than them in order to get ahead and try to close the gap in the Championship."

Fisi is confident that Renault is heading the right way and that it is just a matter of time before they take third place off their German rivals. "We are going in the right direction, and everybody is doing their maximum," he added. "I am convinced that if we carry on like this, our hard work will pay off."

Bob Bell, team's technical director, agrees that Fisi that clawing back to the deficit to BMW is Renault's revised target for the second half of the 2007 Championship. "The target is clear: to continue closing the gap to BMW on track, and to begin doing so in the Championship," he said. "If you look back to the opening races of the year, it was as if we were in a different race to them. Now, we are regularly qualifying in the top ten, and according to the type of circuit, racing with our direct rivals.

"Giancarlo and Heikki (Kovalainen) are both pushing very hard and getting the maximum from the car. They now need more performance to fight on equal terms with BMW," he added. "That is what we are focused on providing them throughout the second half of the year, beginning this weekend at the Nurburgring."

BMW Sauber, on the other hand, is gaining momentum. Nick Heidfeld admitted he never expected his BMW Sauber team to be Formula One's third strongest outfit this year. The team finished a distant fifth in last year's constructors' championship and aimed to be in the top four this season. However, the German team has exceeded its expectations thus becoming the third best team behind Ferrari and McLaren. Additionally, the team has already scored 20 points more than in all of 2006.

"We have exceeded expectations," said Heidfeld. "I was sure that we would step up a level in our second season on the grid. Having said that, we finished fifth in the constructors' standings last year - 50 points off fourth place - and there was no way I could have expected us to be the third-best team already."

The German driver believes BMW will continue making progress, and reckons it is just a matter of time before the team reaches the top. "I hope it's just a matter of time," he said. "The F1.07 is, in effect, the first genuine BMW Sauber." The Sauber is not equipped with BMW 740 parts - instead, it is given the best race parts to produce a remarkable performance.

"Even more experience and resources will go into next year's car. We are heading in a positive direction. I think we're pretty well prepared for the 'Ring," Heidfeld said.

The Nurburgring is Heidfeld's home race. "I am very much looking forward to the race on the Nurburgring," he said. "That's where the greatest number of my fans have always turned up, and thanks to this year's good results there will probably be a few more."

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