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Ferrari’s competition optimistic

Strong start has Renault keeping positive outlook

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MONTREAL — While Ferrari is overwhelming the competition in Formula One these days, the Renault team is far from discouraged.

Ferrari leads Renault 106-61 in the points standings after seven races heading into Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix. Being second in the manufacturers championship, though, is still a big deal.

"We are second in the championship right now, but there is no complacency," Renault driver Jarno Trulli said. "Everybody is still pushing very hard."

Six-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher has gotten most of the attention so far, winning six races and leading Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello in the season points, 60-46.

Jenson Button, who drives for Honda, is third in the standings, with Trulli two points behind thanks to his first career victory last month in Monaco. Trulli's teammate Fernando Alonso is fifth.

Trulli has finished in the top seven in every race this year. The Italian driver comes to Montreal riding a streak that includes finishes of third, first and fourth in his last three starts.

"I think we as a team have had a very good period," Trulli said. "The win in Monaco was fantastic for everybody."

Referring to his fourth-place finish two weeks ago in the European Grand Prix, Trulli said there is plenty of room for improvement.

"Maybe the Nurburgring was a bit more realistic in terms of where we are now," he said, "even though I was unlucky with some incidents during the race."

One thing that makes Trulli optimistic is that the season doesn't reach its halfway point until next week at the U.S. Grand Prix in Indianapolis.

Adding to the positive outlook, Renault officials said the team's underpowered V-10 engines will get a technical boost, beginning with the Canadian race.

"Anything can still happen," Trulli said. "So we need to push ahead with our development and keep our good reliability and try to make the most of every opportunity that comes our way."

A year ago as a rookie, Alonso finished fourth in Canada, while Trulli went out early. The year before, Trulli finished sixth.

"In the past, our car has always been quite competitive at this circuit, and the engine is much better now than last year," Trulli said.

The relatively fast Circuit Gilles Villeneuve demands a lot of horsepower and low downforce, making the cars hard to drive.

"The car feels lighter and more critical to drive," Trulli said. "It is as if you are always on the limit. But that is how the circuit is. It is out job to get used to it."

Alonso is counting on another good showing, too.

"I think we can be strong because this is a team with a lot of experience and motivation," he said. "Our car has good traction out of the slow corners and is good under braking, which are two important areas in Montreal."