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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 06:21 GMT
Alonso move no obstacle - Renault
Fernando Alonso
Alonso is pre-season favourite to win the F1 championship
Renault insist that Fernando Alonso's decision to move to McLaren in 2007 will not affect the team's defence of their Formula One world championship.

Design boss Pat Symonds said both the team and driver were fully committed to a second consecutive title success.

"If we're chasing for the championship I cannot see it having any effect whatsoever," Symonds said.

"The only time it can have an effect is if things aren't going well - but let's make damn sure that doesn't happen."

Symonds, Renault's engineering director, acknowledged that the team would not want Alonso to take with him information about the team's plans for 2007.

But he said that would have no bearing on the team's efforts race by race.

Winning a championship is fantastic, but winning it again really does show some class
Pat Symonds
Renault engineering director
"As we get to the end of the season we do start developing a few ideas that wouldn't be implemented until the following season and of course we wouldn't have him privy to those," he said.

"But in every other respect we're racing for the following weekend and we're not going to cut off our noses to spite our faces and he's going to think the same way.

"We're all racers, we're all competitive people, and you can't stop us doing that."

Symonds said that last year's success had enhanced Renault's desire to do well this year rather than harmed it.

"Winning a championship is of course a fantastic thing, but winning it again really does show some class," he said.

"Certainly a hell of a lot of people here think that way and are every bit as desperate to do it again as they were to win it in the first place."

Jenson Button's Honda leads Giancarlo Fisichella's Renault in testing
Honda's pre-season form suggests they are Renault's closest rivals
He added that winning had made the team a little more conservative in their design process.

"We had a really good car last year, so you're not going to rush into untried-and-tested innovation," Symonds said.

Despite this, the team's new car has proved to be the class of the field in pre-season testing and the team are strong favourites ahead of the opening race in Bahrain on Sunday.

But Symonds said he expects a very competitive season.

I don't think Ferrari are quite with ourselves and Honda and McLaren yet, but I don't think they're far behind either
Pat Symonds
He said Renault and Honda were neck and neck and "a little bit ahead" of the rest, although he added that after a difficult start McLaren had improved and "really it's perm any one from three".

He added that Ferrari would be more competitive than last year, but were not yet potential pace-setters.

Ferrari's form would be dependent on their Bridgestone tyres, which Symonds said were not yet as competitive as the Michelins used by McLaren, Honda and Renault.

"I really don't think Ferrari had a terribly good car last year and I think they are too good a team to let that happen twice. So I do think Ferrari are going to be right back in the hunt," he said.

"The times when they can exploit their tyre advantage they are going to be winners - Imola, for example, right at the moment I can't see them not winning at Imola.

"It's a circuit where Michelin has struggled a bit in the past and we're not totally convinced we've got a solution for that.

"At other places I don't think they're quite with ourselves and Honda and McLaren yet, but I don't think they're far behind either."




SEE ALSO
Alonso confident of winning start
06 Mar 06 |  Formula One
McLaren shrug off engine concerns
06 Mar 06 |  Formula One
Button ready to win - Coulthard
06 Mar 06 |  Formula One
Coulthard wants new Red Bull deal
07 Mar 06 |  Formula One
Rebel teams upbeat over F1 future
08 Mar 06 |  Formula One


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