Double world champion Fernando Alonso has officially confirmed that he will once again drive for Renault, having stated he will return to Enstone for the 2008 season. The news comes as no surprise as Renault personnel had admitted they were holding talks with the Spaniard, but the decision to return couldn’t have been an easy one and many factors had to be considered.
Renault also confirmed that current test driver Nelsinho Piquet, son of the 1981, ’83 and ’87 world champion, will partner Alonso in the R28, due to be tested in Valencia in mid-January and officially launched on 31st January in Paris.
Fernando and Nelsinho will form one of the most exciting driver line up of 2008. We are delighted to be welcoming Fernando back home to the team where he enjoyed his greatest success. His abilities as a driver and a team leader are well known, and we look forward to forging another strong partnership.
What’s more, he knows the team well and how we operate; he will feel comfortable straight away in this environment.
Nelsinho is one of the most promising young talents in motorsport. After his success in GP2, he has spent a year learning the ropes as our test driver and getting to know the team; he is now ready to step up to the next level. Flavio Briatore.
After winning two titles with the squad in 2005 and 2006, Alonso left to join McLaren for the 2007 season. While the MP4-22 car was fast and Alonso enjoyed victories and podiums, almost taking a third title, the inter-team battles left Alonso struggling for rapport and support. It was mutually decided in October that Alonso would be free of his contract for next season, and was linked to many teams in the mean time, notably Red Bull Racing, Toyota and Honda. However, for 2008, Renault appears to be the best option, although Red Bull and Honda are expected to improve during the upcoming season.
I am delighted to be returning to Renault. This is the team where I grew up as a driver in Formula One. Now it is time for us to begin a new chapter together.
I am very excited about working with this great team once more, and confident that together we can move back to the front of the field. Renault had a difficult year in 2007, but I know that the team has real strength in depth. I am confident they can produce a fast and competitive car and be back at the top in 2008. Fernando Alonso.
In 2007, the Renault team struggled with an under-performing chassis and rookie driver in the second car. Giancarlo Fisichella, although praised by the squad for doing well with a poor car, has since tested for Force India, and today’s news confirms his exit from the Anglo-French team. If Force India can afford the Italian, the Silverstone-based team are realistically his last chance for a seat for next season. Meanwhile, Heikki Kovalainen, who debuted with Renault in 2007 and improved well throughout the year, is now left high and dry. Rumours have linked the Finn to McLaren, who are still assessing their options. A recent team statement from Woking said that they will know who their drivers will be by the end of the year and an announcement will be made in early January.
Renault also announced reigning 2007 F3 Euro Series champion Romain Grosjean as the teams test driver.