Renault expects to remain competitive

The Renault team is confident that its outstanding performance in the Malaysian Grand Prix, where Fernando Alonso started from pole and finished third, is a realistic barometer for its performance during the rest of the year

Renault expects to remain competitive

Renault's drivers, Alonso and Jarno Trulli, claimed the front row in Malaysia and then Alonso went on to become the first Spaniard to finish on the podium since Alfonso de Portago at the 1956 British Grand Prix.

The Malaysian picture was slightly skewed by Renault being the only Michelin team that could run the French company's softer tyre compound, worth an estimated half a second over one lap, and the team electing to run a short first stint and therefore qualified with a lighter fuel load.

"We're looking to make a lot of progress in the near future," said the team's technical director Mike Gascoyne. "I can't comment on the numbers but if you could make a gain of one third of what people are saying, then there's no way that BMW are putting 50bhp into their engine. That, for us, would be a lot of time and we are already very competitive. And I do feel we can do that.

"We have things in the pipeline that do make us very confident. A significant step is expected in time for the Monaco Grand Prix on June 1."

Although not as quick as McLaren in the race, the team has made big strides in 2003 and has a superb chassis, which also proved competitive in practice for the Australian Grand Prix. On the engine side, however, conservative estimates reckon that the wide-angled V10 is 100bhp down on the best F1 units, a deficit which Mercedes Motorsport boss Norbert Haug estimated to be worth 1.2s around Sepang.

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