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Alonso confident; Fisichella apologizes
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-03-17 06:12

KUALA LUMPUR: Defending drivers' world champion Fernando Alonso was cool and confident yesterday ahead of Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix, while his Renault team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella had to apologize for swearing.

Alonso, the 24-year-old Spaniard who last season became the youngest champion in Formula One history, said that far from feeling any pressure as defending champion, he enjoyed it.

"I like it," he said. "It means people are talking about Fernando Alonso and about Renault. And that is what we want. It is good for us."

While Alonso revelled in his position as the early-season leader of the new championship after winning the opening race last weekend in Bahrain, Italian Fisichella was left to say sorry to British television viewers.

They were upset when he swore over the team radio when his car failed during last Sunday's race.

"I am sorry for that, but it did happen," he said, when asked about how his utterances were broadcast live by the independent British television company ITV. "But there are worse things that happen in the world."

Alonso arrived at sweltering Sepang, where temperatures rose to the mid-30s Celsius yesterday afternoon, soon after midday.

He was soon swiftly engulfed by the media but calmly pointed out that it was too early to talk of pressure or title nerves.

"It is going to make the start of the season very interesting that there are four teams all pushing to win races now this year," he said. "Not just Renault and Ferrari, but also McLaren and Honda can do it.

"And because of that we need to work very hard to stay ahead and stay on top. If you have a bad weekend this time, you can finish seventh or eighth and that is no good for anyone who is trying to win the championship," Alonso said.

"The only answer is to improve the car all the time and to do that in all areas. So we are working very hard. But I am confident we can do well again this weekend. This is a circuit where we have always done well in the past."

(China Daily 03/17/2006 page16)

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