Fernando Alonso is realistic about his chances of another victory in Japan this week after his upset win in Singapore, but he remains confident Renault will again be on the pace.
The two-time world champion made the most of a Ferrari blunder and the saftey car being deployed on the Singapore street circuit last month to win the race after starting 15th on the grid.
The breakthrough was unexpected for a team that had struggled over the previous few months, and Alonso knows it will be tough to match Ferrari and McLaren on the Fuji Speedway on Sunday.
"It's true that a street circuit is always unusual and your level of performance depends on the competitiveness of your car, the set-up and your ability to take risks," he said.
"We worked hard to develop some new parts for Singapore, but also for the final three races of the season, so I think that we can be on the pace in Fuji.
"We will give our maximum to try and make that the case and to benefit from the free practice sessions on Friday as much as possible," Alonso said.
"We must remain focused and try to repeat our level of performance from Singapore to fight at the front.
"However, I remain realistic as it will be difficult to race the Ferraris and McLarens. But we will give our maximum to score as many points as possible because the fight for fourth in the championship remains very close."
Alonso, who has yet to commit to Renault for the 2009 season, said the set-up of the car would be an important factor on a fast track.
"The circuit has a very long straight and so aero settings will once again be crucial. There are also several medium- and low-speed corners, and the last few turns in particular are taken in second gear," he said.
"So the team will have to work hard to determine the level of downforce and the mechanical grip, which will be especially important in the slow sections.
"We will be running a similar program to that which we run at other tracks that we visit once a year."
After winning the drivers' championship with Renault in 2005 and 2006, Alonso spent an unhappy year with McLaren - where he was overshadowed by rookie Lewis Hamilton - before returning to the French constructor this year.
His victory in Singapore was the Spaniard's first in a year and his 20th career title.
(AFP via China Daily October 8, 2008)