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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 January 2007, 13:32 GMT
Renault confident over new F1 car
Heikki Kovalainen in the new Renault Formula One car
Kovalainen is hopeful the R27 will keep Renault at the front
Heikki Kovalainen believes the Renault team can continue to compete at the top of Formula One despite world champion Fernando Alonso's departure to McLaren.

The team unveiled their 2007 car in Amsterdam on Wednesday and the Finn, who drove it last week, said his first impressions were encouraging.

"The car feels very good," he wrote in his column for the BBC Sport website.

"It's early days and we haven't seen what the others can do, but I have a feeling we have made a good car."

Kovalainen and veteran team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella both tested the new R27 car in Jerez in southern Spain last week.

Kovalainen, who is making his debut in F1 this season after two years as Renault's test driver, added: "My first impression was that it was better than last year's car.

The team are hungry to continue winning, and the R27 reflects that determination

Bob Bell
Renault technical director
"And looking at the lap times and consistency in the long runs its certainly a big improvement.

"That suggests the car is good. We obviously still need to learn more but the first impressions are good and that's the main thing."

Kovalainen said the lap times produced by the R27 on its debut were "very encouraging".

Renault technical director Bob Bell said: "We have enjoyed two seasons of remarkable success, but there is no complacency at Renault.

606 DEBATE: Give your thoughts on the Renault

"Finding progress under stable regulations always obeys the law of diminishing returns, but our technical group has worked hard to innovate and ensure that the new car represents a genuine step forward in every area.

"The team are hungry to continue winning, and the R27 reflects that determination."

A close-up of the wing mirrors on the 2007 Renault, which are mounted on arms stretching forward from the sidepods rather than on the cockpit sides, as is usual
Renault have found a new approach to wing mirrors on the new car
Renault have won both the drivers' and constructors' titles in the last two years but are not expected to be such a force this season following Alonso's departure.

Fisichella won only one race in each of the last two seasons, and although Kovalainen is highly rated rookie drivers always find it difficult to win in their first season.

But Renault F1 president Alain Dassas said he was keen for the team to continue winning.

"Consecutive double championships are concrete proof that Renault can win in a demanding environment where success demands quality, technical excellence and reliability," Dassas said.

"We must now live up to that reputation. On track the challenge will remain the same - we will be asking our technical teams and drivers to make Renault a championship contender in 2007."

Maybe it's the best chance I've had in my life and I need to do it

Giancarlo Fisichella
Team boss Flavio Briatore said he was confident the team would be able to continue competing at the front.

"We have always said that our philosophy is that you need the right team to win, not just one person," the Italian said.

"This year is the chance to prove that our philosophy is the right one.

"At Renault, we know we are a top team and that we have the ingredients we need to fight at the front in Formula One.

"Every year people write us off because we have to adapt to big changes. And in the last two years, we defied their expectations. We are aiming to do the same again in 2007."

Fisichella said he realised it was important for him to make the most of his position as the most experienced driver in the team.

"Hopefully, it's not the last chance (of winning the title)," the 34-year-old Italian said. "Let's say maybe it's the best chance I've had in my life and I need to do it."



SEE ALSO
Heikki Kovalainen column
24 Jan 07 |  Formula One
New Renault breaks cover in test
16 Jan 07 |  Formula One
Toyota aim high with new F1 car
12 Jan 07 |  Formula One
New-look Ferrari aim to win title
15 Jan 07 |  Formula One
Alonso tips himself to win title
15 Jan 07 |  Formula One
BMW confident of podium finishes
16 Jan 07 |  Formula One
Briatore dismisses McLaren hopes
03 Jan 07 |  Formula One
Kovalainen - I can match Alonso
20 Dec 06 |  Formula One


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