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F1 champions Renault target early race wins
January 04, 2006 19:02 IST
Formula One champions Renault plan two months of intensive testing in a bid to repeat their winning start to the 2005 season.
Renault new V8-powered R26 car will run next Tuesday for the first time at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain with Italian Giancarlo Fisichella at the wheel.
The Renault website said two cars would run "from the team's second test of the winter to achieve maximum mileage with the car and drivers ahead of the opening race".
The season starts in Bahrain on March 12, with McLaren seen as Renault's main rivals.
The French manufacturer swept the first four races of 2005, paving the way to their constructors' title and Fernando Alonso becoming the youngest world champion at 24.
"Those early races really set the scene for the year," engineering head Pat Symonds told the Renault F1 website on Wednesday.
"Each race may be worth 10 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."
The new engine, with the old V10 consigned to history by rule changes, was first fired up in the complete car before the Christmas break in a static test of the oil, water and electronics systems.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage