Finally the confirmation of the expected came – Fernando Alonso is returning to Renault from next season.
Nelson Piquet Jr. will be promoted from testing duties to race driver. Romain Grosjean will be Renault’s 3rd pilot.
This means both 2007 Renault drivers – Heikki Kovalainen and Giancarlo Fisichella have to look for his drive elsewhere. Kovalainen has been connected with the McLaren, Fisichella targets Force India.
Flavio Briatore’s words:
“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.”
And Fernando Alonso on why he chose Renault and his other options:
Options… Well, to tell you the truth, we do know that’s not easy. I’m one of the 22 privileged people who get to drive a Formula 1 car each year and I’m even more privileged to be one of those who can afford leaving one great team and end up in another great team, while there are a lot of drivers who never get the chance to drive a Formula 1 car. The decision hasn’t been an easy one to make. I would like to thank all the other teams for their interest to have me work with them. Like I said before, I chose Renault in the end considering their commitment to the sport and because of their strong track record.
… and on what will happen next season
“This is a question we all ask and I believe nobody can answer for certain. You know that teams like Ferrari will always be favourites. Also, the teams who have had problems adjusting to the Bridgestone tyres will hopefully have solved their problems and will be back at the top. Maybe Renault can be part of the top teams again this season. Today’s challenge is for Renault to go back to the top of the sheet already in January or February and then come closer to the podiums next season. They have suffered more than enough this year.”
… and on his title chances in 2008
“We will see what can be done… We shouldn’t put the cart before the horse. The first thing to do is to put the R28 on track in January and then start working thoroughly in order to get to the first Grand Prix of the season with the best car possible. I had to rise to the same challenge last year during the winter season and I am confident that this can happen again. After that, I will have to have a perfect season and hope for the others not to be too quick.”