Monday February 5th, 2001
Benetton has set aside this season as a development year in preparation for an attack on the title in 2002, when they will be re-badged as Renault.
The team will launch their new car in Venice on Tuesday, but Managing Director Flavio Briatore is not expecting things to come together until at least the middle of 2001.
"It will be difficult because basically Benetton are a new team," he said. "We are a team in a learning curve because we have planned to be competitive in 2002. We have a new engine and we want to be competitive by the middle of this season, although next year will be our year."
One key to success both this year and next will be the drivers, and Briatore believes the arrival of the young and talented Jenson Button will kick Giancarlo Fisichella up a gear.
He added: "We have very good drivers this year. Every team has two good drivers but we have got two of the best. Giancarlo Fisichella will benefit from Jenson Button because he will push him.
"What Jenson Button did last year was quite remarkable and he has looked good in testing and is a plus for the team."
It clearly is a long-term plan at Benetton, and it seems that if they can get it together this year, that will be a bonus. "When Renault decided to take over we knew it was going to be difficult," Briatore said.
"This will be a transitional year with new engine, drivers and tyres. But we hold our own destiny and we believe we have everything to be champions in the future."