Renault recorded its best combined qualifying result of the 2007 season as it played to the partisan galleries of Magny-Cours, with both Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen making the top six ahead of the French Grand Prix.

The result confirmed the team's confidence following Friday's practice sessions - despite both drivers languishing further down the order than expected - while the tightly-matched performances of the two drivers were an additional source of satisfaction. With closest championship rival BMW sandwiching the two R27s, the battle for 'best of the rest' honours behind the top two looks set to be the closest it has been all season, but Renault still needs to work on its reliability, according to engineering director Pat Symonds.

"Once again, our qualifying result reflects the steady progress that the team is making," he admitted, "There is still some way to the front of the field but, at the moment, it's all positive news for us.

"Giancarlo had a generally good session, although some brake locking disturbed his runs, while, unfortunately, Heikki had to contend with a more severe power steering problem, which certainly cost him some time. In spite of all that, though, this was our best qualifying result of the season and I am sure our strategies are sensible. We are hoping for a dry race tomorrow, and a straight fight out on track."

Fifth-placed Fisichella agreed that getting closer to BMW had had the effect of raising morale within the camp.

"It is very motivating to be driving with the team at the moment, and seeing the progress we are making at every race thanks to the hard work at the factory and at the track," the Italian said, "This result shows we have made more good progress with the new parts we brought here for the car. There is more grip and the result is that the gap to the leading teams has shrunk a little bit more. We know there is the potential for more too, so everybody is feeling confident."

Kovalainen had more work to do between sessions, but was pleased to have transformed the handling of his car to the point where he could challenge his team-mate, but was frustrated by the power steering problem which blighted the latter stages of qualifying.

"The car was pulling quite hard to the left, so it was very difficult braking and turning in, and that cost me time, especially in Q3," the Finn noted, "For sure, there was more time to come but, even so, the third row is a good starting position for me, equal to my best at the last race in Indy. Our performance shows we are going in the right direction.and it's a good starting point. Now let's see what the race brings."

 

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