Flavio Briatore has heaped plaudits on driver Giancarlo Fisichella after the Italian gave Renault its best result of the season so far with a superb fourth place in today's Monaco Grand Prix.

Having lined up a strong fourth on the grid around a circuit he loves, Fisichella produced a flawless performance to finish in the same position, just 20 seconds adrift of Felipe Massa's third-placed Ferrari and a similar margin clear of the BMW-Sauber duo of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld. The result also moves him up a spot in the drivers' standings to sixth, and strengthened the R?gie's fourth position in the constructors' table.

"It was a very good result for me and the team," the 34-year-old enthused after the race, "and encouraging for the future. We should be proud of the job we did at the circuit this weekend, and say thank you to all the people in the factory whose hard work made it possible. The car had more grip thanks to a new wing, and the consistency was much better too.

"I was happy with the race I drove, pushing all the way through the first two stints until we knew for sure my position was safe. It was good to finish ahead of BMW for the first time, and now we have some more time to push again at the factory and make more progress. Canada is another good circuit for me, so hopefully we can take another step forward there."

Renault managing director Briatore - at times a vociferous critic of Fisichella over the past two seasons - was effusive in his praise for his showing throughout the weekend, and positive the French outfit would prove capable of building on its improvement over the forthcoming grands prix.

"Giancarlo put in a fantastic performance all weekend," the Italian asserted, "and congratulations to him for his fourth place. From the team's point-of-view, it is encouraging to have moved closer to the front of the field, and back towards our normal level of performance.

"Our step forward confirms we are moving in the right direction at the factory, and credit goes to all the people who have worked night and day in the last few weeks. We know that there is still a long way to go, and we will be aiming to make steps forward with each race. I am confident we can continue to improve from here."

"Giancarlo drove a smooth and competitive race," agreed Executive Director of Engineering Pat Symonds, "and was untroubled in achieving our best result so far this year. We called him in early for his first stop to avoid traffic, but other than that planning his strategy was straightforward and his race turned out the same way. Overall it has been an encouraging weekend for us, and we will look to confirm this improved performance in the next races."



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