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F1 NEWS 

Renault ahead of schedule with new car

World champions Renault believe they are in better shape with their preparations for the new season than they were at this stage last year.

Although the French car manufacturer have been the best prepared team at the start of the last two seasons, when decisive early victories allowed them to seize the initiative in the world championship fights, technical director Bob Bell claims they are ahead of schedule with their R27 design.

"Everything is running smoothly," said Bell. "Compared to the design of the R26, we are definitely ahead of the game at this stage.

"The new chassis successfully completed FIA homologation testing this week, while the rear end has already been running in a hybrid R26 chassis since last week's test in Barcelona, and has so far completed several thousand kilometres."

Renault are hoping to complete their first R27 chassis before Christmas. That will allow the team to conduct static testing at their factory prior to the first shakedown tests scheduled for Jerez on January 16.

"We will aim to run two chassis from that first test onwards, in order to maximise our track time with the car and give both race drivers the best possible preparation for the new season," added Bell.

Although Renault have not set very quick times in winter testing so far, Bell has no concern at all. He insists that the team are focused on reliability running and getting used to new Bridgestone tyres.

"Our objectives for these winter tests are very clear: to find our feet with the Bridgestone tyres, while also building reliability and confidence with the 2007 rear end," he said. "Everything has gone to plan, and the R26 has been quick when we have run performance programmes.

"The new gearbox has been operating reliably, which has been a great source of motivation for the team. So far, all the signs indicate that we are making very good progress and that we will be ready to hit the ground running when the R27 runs for the first time in January."

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