Giancarlo Fisichella admits Renault needs to further up its game if it is to get the better of BMW, as the French squad flattered to deceive in its home grand prix at Magny-Cours by failing to capitalise on an encouraging qualifying performance.

Although Fisichella had lined up fifth on the grid and ran in that position throughout the opening period of the race, not far adrift of Robert Kubica, running too heavy in his second stint cost the Italian sufficient time that he was leapfrogged by the sister BMW of Nick Heidfeld, pushing him down to sixth spot at the close, albeit only 3.4 seconds behind the German. He did, however, at least enjoy the satisfaction of keeping reigning double world champion and former team-mate Fernando Alonso at bay for the final 15 laps.

"I did the best possible today," the 34-year-old asserted. "The pace was very close to BMW, and even closer to the other teams in front too, as I was able to keep Fernando behind me on equal fuel loads at the end of the race. For sure, we are getting better and better and moving forward all the time. Ultimately though, I lost one position this afternoon and that's not good - especially when it's a BMW that goes in front.

"The main problem was the understeer with the high fuel load in the second stint, which cost me too much time. I had a small battle with Fernando early in the race, but he was much lighter and got past. We were running together again at the end, though, and it was much closer.

"The soft tyres grained a little bit in the first few laps of the final stint, and he was much faster than me through turn three, so we had a good battle for a few laps. Then the tyre situation improved and I was able to build a little gap. That was quite satisfying and it shows the car is getting better. Now we need to try and close the points difference with BMW next weekend at Silverstone."

Although the on-track gap has been greatly reduced in recent races, the R?gie has nevertheless slipped to 20 points behind BMW in the constructors' championship, and managing director Flavio Briatore is well aware of the necessity of pushing on as the Enstone-based outfit bids to re-attain its former glories.

"Giancarlo drove well," the flamboyant Italian underlined, "but the car seemed too heavy in the middle stint, and it cost too much time. He showed good aggression to keep Fernando behind, but the story of the afternoon is that we still have work to do. The gap with BMW is almost nothing, but we need to convert the promise of Saturday afternoon into hard points on Sunday."



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