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Man turns tailor for Aishwarya

17:04 PM March 30, 2006
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Melbourne: Renault is looking to continue its early-season dominance in the third round of the Formula One championship at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on Sunday. World champion Fernando Alonso downed Ferrari's Michael Schumacher at the season-opener in Bahrain while Renault teammate Giancarlo Fisichella pipped Alonso for honours in the second race in Malaysia. "I have a great feeling here. I won last year, and I am hoping to do the same again," Fisichella said. "This is the last flyaway race and it is very important to score lots of points early in the season," the Italian said. "I think Renault will be very competitive in Australia, and I am going for the win." Spain's Alonso leads the championship with 18 points after two of the 18 rounds. Schumacher and Honda's Jenson Button have 11 points while Fisichella has 10. Fisichella won last year's race on Melbourne's 5.3 kilometre (3.3 mile) Albert Park street circuit and the French outfit, which won the 2005 constructors' championship from McLaren, is the team the others have to catch. "Over the last few years, good braking and traction have been strong characteristics of the Renault cars, and this is what you need in Melbourne," Alonso said. "The key is the slow-speed chicanes, where you arrive in sixth or seventh gear, brake hard, then get back on the throttle in second gear. We know the car is good in those areas, and we were very quick at this circuit last year. It should be the same for 2006." The danger to Renault looks likely from the British McLaren pair of Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya. Finland's Raikkonen was Alonso's main title threat last season coming in 21 points behind in second, while Montoya believes McLaren will be competitive in Melbourne. "After the first two races, I am really hoping to have a trouble-free weekend in Australia, as the car feels good and I think that we can get some good results with it," Raikkonen said. Colombia's Montoya is looking for a better performance from his McLaren after problems in Malaysia in the last race. "It wasn't an ideal weekend for me in Malaysia, but at least I finished fifth and fourth in the last two races," he said. "I am now looking forward to racing in Melbourne and hopefully challenging for a podium position." With Alonso already declaring that he will drive for McLaren next season, speculation is building on where Montoya and Raikkonen will end up in 2007. "I'm focusing on this year and when the time comes and you're happy you'll sign a new deal with whoever it is and that's it," he said. "I'm driving for McLaren this year and I'm going to do my best I can for them." Schumacher, who dominated F1, stringing together five winning seasons with Ferrari until last year's solitary race win, is looking to bounce back starting in Melbourne. "I cannot wait for this race. Ferrari is competitive once again and the others will have to take us into consideration," said the 84-time Grand Prix winner. Our fans have suffered with us throughout a tough season but have remained faithful. It is a marvellous sensation knowing that we can give them hope for the weekend to come," he said. Schumacher and Felipe Massa spent their Wednesday afternoon playing rugby. Brazilian Barrichello, who has finished second here three times, has left Ferrari after six years to link up with Britain's Button at Honda. The F1 season heads to Europe after Australia for the fourth race at Imola on April 23.