by Russell Atkins

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE

After claiming back-to-back world championship successes - in both the drivers' and constructors' battles - in 2005 and 2006, Renault came back down to earth with a bump last season, failing to register so much as a single victory en route to a distant third place in the final standings.

The French outfit's managing director Flavio Briatore has described the year as a 'disaster', but at the launch of the R?gie's new R28 challenger in Paris the flamboyant Italian was in far more ebullient mood, as he spoke to Crash.net Radio about his hopes and goals for the forthcoming campaign.

Q:
Flavio, you have been quoted as saying that Fernando Alonso has come home. How important is it for Renault to have him back in the team?

Flavio Briatore:
The motivation is very high and everybody is happy; more importantly he's happy and smiling, and the first victory already is to have Fernando enjoying racing again.

Q:
Although he's been at McLaren for a year, does it feel in some ways as if he's never been away from Renault?

FB:
No, I think we could certainly feel that he was away for a year!

Q:
You've got Nelsinho Piquet alongside Fernando on the driving front. What do you expect from him this year?

FB:
I expect him to do a good job. Nelsinho needs experience, but he's very smart, very intelligent and very motivated. We have a great combination of drivers.

Q:
Fernando encountered a few problems last year with a rookie team-mate at McLaren. What makes you confident that situation won't reproduce itself this year at Renault?

FB:
Because we're not McLaren! I know what I'm doing with my drivers, and I'm very confident. I've never had a problem in 17 years, so I don't think they're going to start now.

Q:
How tough was it for everyone at Renault to stay motivated last year given that the team had won two world championships and was then suddenly not on the front-running pace anymore?

FB:
There's always a reason why something isn't working, and it's important that you be transparent with your people so that everybody understands what the difficulty is. In 2006 we developed the car right to the last minute - Ferrari was much stronger than us, and yet we managed to win both championships. In 2006 we managed a miracle, and sometime after the miracle you need to pay a little bit. It's not possible to have a miracle every year.

Q:
At what stage last season did you start thinking 'it's not going to work this year, let's focus on 2008'?

FB:
By the first race; it was so evident the car was bad and not working how it should.

Q:
Do you think that early start on the R28 may give you an advantage compared to the competition this year?

FB:
I don't know; we'll see. I'm sure the car is better. I don't know how much better it is - nobody knows - but let's see what happens in the first test, and more importantly let's see what happens in Australia.

Q:
The objective for 2008 obviously is to close the gap on McLaren and Ferrari. Have you set any particular goals in terms of points or podiums too?

FB:
If we're not aiming for points or podiums it's better that we don't go to Australia! Absolutely though, yes. We will be up there, don't worry.

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE

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