As expected, Renault today announced the contract extensions to both Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jr. This season has seen much speculation surrounding the Spanish world champion, and while Alonso has been courted by Honda and spoken to BMW and Ferrari, Fernando has decided to remain with Renault and signed a two-year deal. Nelson Piquet has also had an extra year added to his contract, highlighting the faith Renault have in the young Brazilian.
Fernando Alonso won two world titles with Renault back in 2005 and 2006, but a shock move to McLaren for 2007 left the Enstone-based squad in disarray. Performance slipped and the squad seemed to part company with the rails for a while. However, returning to Renault after the relationship with McLaren soured, Alonso has steadily improved the car with the help of his team mate and two aspiring testers, and true to his form, Fernando managed a couple of wins this year.
After a difficult start to the season, we have overcome our difficulties and constantly improved our performances. My back-to-back wins in Singapore and Japan, and my recent second place podium finish in Brazil, have proved how competitive we can be.
In the past we have won championships together, as well as going through tough moments, but we are now determined to show that we can repeat that success together in the coming seasons.
It’s a very close-knit team with a competitive and winning mentality, and also a relaxed and warm attitude, which suits me perfectly. Fernando Alonso.
Team boss Flavio Briatore was in praise of his young driver and it seems any hurt caused by the defection to McLaren is very much a part of history.
Fernando’s commitment for the next two seasons confirms the faith he has in the team and we are delighted to continue working with him. He has been a big asset throughout this difficult season and his leadership and talent, matched with the team’s hard work and determination, have paid off with our recent performances, which have placed the ING Renault F1 Team back among the top competitors of Formula One. Flavio Briatore.
Nelson Piquet has endured a less successful season with the squad, but a solid second in Germany as well as some strong runs towards the end of the year proved enough for Renault to retain his services. There was talk of test driver Lucas Di Grassi replacing the son of former world champion Nelson Piquet Sr., but wanting consistency as the squad hopefully moves into a more competitive era should prove a safe and sound decision.
Although I have had a tough year, I have learned a lot from my rookie season and I will aim to put that experience to good use next season. I want to thank the team for their support this year and for the trust they have shown in me for the future.
I’m already excited about 2009 and looking forward to working with the team over the winter so that we can start next season strongly. Nelson Piquet Jr.
With an improving car in the latter stages of 2008, the R29 should hit the ground at a faster pace than the R28 did nine months ago. However, there are a lot of rule changes being implemented before the Australian Grand Prix next March, and the car could very easily go the wrong way in terms of pace and reliability. However, as mentioned, consistency on the driver front will help the squad, as will the talent and determination Alonso brings with him.