Briatore confident of harmony

Renault team boss Flavio Briatore is confident they won't suffer the same problems McLaren-Mercedes experienced last season with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

The Spaniard struggled to come to terms with the fact that McLaren gave his rookie team-mate equal status, Alonso citing his two world titles as reasons why he deserved preferential treatment.

However, McLaren continued to apply their policy of equality in spite of the discontent it caused within the team - Alonso ultimately leaving after just one season to return to Renault.

This year Alonso will again be dealing with a rookie team-mate in Nelson Piquet Jr.
However, Briatore has already made it clear to both drivers that the Spaniard is Renault's number one.

"I think Nelsinho doesn't want to commit suicide in his rookie year," Briatore told the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

"When McLaren hire a world champion in Fernando and have a rookie in Hamilton, they must know how to manage them.

"Piquet and Alonso, they both work for Renault. It's up to me to manage them for the good of the team. I must consider that, besides the two drivers, I have one thousand other people working for me."

Points at best

But Briatore also conceded the likelihood that, if form shown in pre-season testing is anything to go by, neither of his drivers will be in contention in the opening races of the year.

"I think we've (partially) made up the one-second-plus gap Ferrari and McLaren had last year over us," he added.

"In my opinion there will we six or seven cars within two tenths this year. Ferrari keep on having a couple of tenths advantage in race pace, while in qualifying Ferrari and McLaren are on the same level.

"We must defend ourselves in the first three races and score some points, because when we get to Europe we'll introduce some important modifications that should allow us to take some steps forward.

"If Fernando says we have 30% chances of winning then he's optimistic, I'd say it's about 25%."