LONDON, Apr 18 (Reuters) Renault have boosted Italian Giancarlo Fisichella's hopes of winning in front of his home fans at Imola on Sunday by giving him a more powerful engine than team mate Fernando Alonso.
The Roman, equal second in the Formula One standings after three rounds, will get a new unit for the San Marino Grand Prix after completing the mandatory two races with the last one.
Championship leader Alonso, winner at Imola last year on his way to the title, must continue with the engine that powered him to victory in Australia on April 2 whereas Fisichella got out of sequence after retiring from the Bahrain season-opener.
Fisichella won with a fresh engine in Malaysia and hopes to return to the top at a circuit that gave him his first points in Formula One in 1997.
''I think Renault has an edge at the moment, so we have to aim for victory at every Grand Prix,'' said the Italian in a team preview today.
''I have a fresh engine, and a bit more power from the new specification, so that gives me a fantastic chance for this race...I believe we have the package to win in Imola.'' Renault engine supremo Denis Chevrier said the upgraded engine, which had been due to be introduced at the fifth round of the season at the Nuerburgring in Germany next month, should be significantly better.
THRILLING FINALE Chevrier said Renault, unbeaten this season and winners of the last four races, had accelerated their development programme after it became apparent that Fisichella would be entitled to the new engine earlier than expected.
''We decided it was important to do so, and have pushed our processes to make it happen,'' he said.
''However, this early debut may lead us to conserve some of the engine's potential performance during the race in order to not compromise reliability.'' Alonso, the championship leader who held off Ferrari's Michael Schumacher in a thrilling finale at Imola last year, also sounded upbeat.
''It became maybe the most talked-about win of my career so far I think,'' the Spaniard said of the 2005 race at Ferrari's home circuit.
''For me, it was a win like the others -- a special achievement. But when you are fighting with Michael, then I think the media talk about it in a special way, and make it something bigger.
''I enjoyed the final laps of the race last year, and it was an important race to win. But if I can do it again this year, on my own, a long way in front, then that's even better.'' Alonso leads Fisichella and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen by 14 points, with Schumacher and Honda's Briton Jenson Button 17 adrift.
REUTERS AY RAI1607