Despite having already got down to work on the design and production of next year's Formula One challenger, Renault insists that it is still targeting third place in the 2007 standings, with beating BMW its aim for the remaining six races.

Technical director Bob Bell openly admits that the season so far has fallen well short of expectation, but remains confident that updates for the R27 in both Turkey and Italy can help close the gap to the Hinwil team, if not necessarily to Ferrari and McLaren.

"It's no surprise to hear me say that this year has been a big disappointment," he admitted in the run up to the Turkish GP, "Our level of performance so far has been well below our expectations at the start of the season.

"But, having said that, there have been a number of positives too, most importantly the way in which the team has handled, and responded to, what was a tough situation for all concerned. We are not taking our foot off the pedal, and we are still working very hard for the final six races in the 2007 championship - and beyond.

"Back at the factory, though, the moment has come to focus our energies on 2008, but we will have some minor aerodynamic upgrades in Turkey, and a new aero package in Monza - adapted to the very low drag set-up we require there. We will also be working hard to extract more performance at the track from our most recent developments."

With all testing banned during the summer 'break' between Hungary and Turkey, all eleven teams will nevertheless have been hard at work back at base, hoping to find the tweak that moves them ahead of their rivals in the final third of the year.

"We have made progress, and I am sure other people have too," Bell continued, "The top two teams are clearly still a step ahead, and it will be difficult for anybody to race with them. BMW has taken a definite step forward in the last few races and they remain, at this stage of the year, quicker than us. Williams and Toyota have moved forward too, but I think that the overall picture will be similar to recent races and, indeed, should stay relatively stable until the end of the season."

Istanbul Park will present the first opportunity for Renault to get to grips with BMW in the battle for third place in the constructors' championship, and Bell is optimistic that the team can raise its game from the off.

"Turkey is not a race that presents any extreme challenges, apart from the high temperatures we will have to face," he insisted, "Our objective will, as always, be to get the most out of our package and I think that, if we continue to work well and to get the most from the car, then we are capable of beating BMW on a number of occasions before the end of the year. That remains our target."

However, while the race team goes about its business, those back at the factories in Enstone and Viry have already turned most of the attention to nest season.

"We have always said that our problems this year would not compromise next year's programme, and that remains the case," Bell confirmed, "Our design and development resources are already focusing intently on 2008.

"We began work on the car early, and our approach has been quite different to recent years. First and foremost, we had to be certain that our development tools were working correctly. Once this was confirmed, we began putting a lot of energy into the design of the new car. The project is on time, and we have been exploring some very interesting new development paths."

 

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