Renault has played down its low-key form in practice ahead of Sunday's French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours, despite neither of the outfit's drivers featuring inside the top ten in the two 90-minute sessions.

Giancarlo Fisichella was the R?gie's highest-placed representative throughout the day, winding up eleventh on the timesheets, though that only equated to eight tenths of a second shy of the fastest lap in a very tightly-packed field. Team-mate Heikki Kovalainen was six places and half a second further in arrears as the French squad focused on evaluating Bridgestone's two tyre compounds for the weekend as well as set-up work over the course of more than 120 trouble-free laps.

"I had a pretty good day," Fisichella confirmed. "We did lots of laps and completed the programme, which is always the first objective. The changes we made to the set-up were good, and I felt really comfortable out on-track.

"The times and handling balance were quite consistent on the long runs which is an important factor for the race, and I don't think the position will look too bad once we have completed our analysis. There's still more progress to come from our work overnight, but I think we have a good starting point to work from."

Kovalainen was not quite as enthusiastic about his position, blaming traffic and an imperfect balance on his R27 for his showing, but he too remains confident Saturday will see a significant leap up the order.

"The car balance isn't quite where I want it to be at the moment," the Finn confessed, "and that was costing me time today, especially as I also had some traffic on my last timed laps on new tyres. That is something we can tune overnight though.

"The important thing was to do the programme, make some good set-up changes and give ourselves a platform for tomorrow. I think we managed that successfully, and we know the direction we need to go overnight. There is still work to be done and some time to be found in the car, but I think we will look better tomorrow than the timesheets suggest right now."

"Magny-Cours is a circuit that changes a lot according to the prevailing conditions," added Renault's Executive Director of Engineering Pat Symonds, "and the re-surfacing that has been conducted for this year made it all-the-more important to do a proper tyre comparison and evaluation today. This was completed successfully by both drivers, but the handling balance when they both ran a new set of tyres at the end of the session was not as good as we would have liked. However, this is not a fundamental problem, and I am sure some overnight tuning will cure it."



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