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Renault give Fisichella a boost
Alan Baldwin | April 21, 2005 18:23 IST
Formula One championship leaders Renault have boosted Italian Giancarlo Fisichella's hopes of success in Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix.
A Renault spokesman said on Thursday that the team had decided to give the Roman driver their revised 'B' specification engine a race ahead of schedule after analysing test data.
Fisichella is entitled to a new engine without penalty after retiring from the last Bahrain Grand Prix but Renault had not intended to race the upgraded version until the Spanish Grand Prix on May 8.
Spaniard Fernando Alonso, Fisichella's team mate and championship frontrunner after winning the last two races, will have to use the same engine that he used in Bahrain.
New rules introduced this season stipulate that engines must last for two successive races.
Fisichella said he had high hopes for Sunday's race, at a circuit where he scored his first Formula One points with Jordan in 1997, and felt that local fans were increasingly supporting Italian drivers as well as Ferrari.
"I remember how things used to be," he said. "Twenty years ago, [Riccardo] Patrese crashed in the Brabham when he was leading and the fans cheered because that meant Ferrari won the race.
"Nowadays I think the Italian people and the Ferrari fans are much closer to the Italian drivers.
"We have had an Italian on the podium at every race in 2005, and with Ferrari not being so strong in the first races, I think people at home are starting to like seeing an Italian on the podium rather than somebody else," he said.
Fisichella won the season-opening Australian Grand Prix but has retired from the last two races and will have to overcome the setback of running early in first qualifying on Saturday.
Renault will be chasing their fourth victory in four races on Sunday while Ferrari's seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher, winner five times in the last six years at Imola, has scored just two points so far.
Toyota's Italian Jarno Trulli has been second in the last two races.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage