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F1 NEWS 

Fisichella: no preferences on teammate

Giancarlo Fisichella has said he has no preference about who he wants as his teammate at Renault next year.

The Italian has had his contract with the team extended by another season, while it is still unknown who the French manufacturer will bring in to replace Fernando Alonso.

The two favourites for the drive are Renault tester Heikki Kovalainen and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen - with speculation suggesting that Fisichella's deal makes it more likely that the team have got hold of Raikkonen.

But Fisichella has said that he has no idea yet who has won the fight to be Renault's second driver next year - although he suggested earlier this week that it would definitely be a Finn.

"I really don't know, it's too early to say," he told autosport.com. "The other day I was joking that it would be a Finnish driver and I do believe that Kovalainen, who has done a good job, has a good chance. I am sure he is one of the candidates.

"And the other Finn? Yes, he is a very good driver. I would relish the challenge of driving alongside him, but I do not care who it is really. Personally, if Kovalainen drives then I am happy with him because I know the guy and he is very good."

Although Fisichella has recently endured a difficult few races, having missed out on the podium in Monaco and Britain, he has said he had no doubts about remaining with Renault in 2007.

"I was pretty confident for some time," he explained. "The atmosphere in the team is great. The reliability and the performance are great. Thinking about all these things, I am happy to be with the team in 2007 and I am really looking forward to it.

"It is a benefit this deal being announced. It really helps knowing where you are going next year especially after two years of working with the team. You normally take one to two years to integrate and build up a team, so it will be easier for me. I did some hard work in the last two years so now I can build on it."

Looking ahead to the rest of this season, Fisichella believes that judging by his current pace he could expect to take more victories to add to his triumph in Malaysia.

"Sure I have got the pace," he said. "I know I have had a few problems but I am stronger mentally and physically, and I do not see why I cannot win more races."

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