Friday, April 11, 2008

Fernando Alonso in warning to Renault

Fernando Alonso has warned his Renault team that he could leave at the end of the season if the car does not improve.
Alonso returned to the constructor after a tumultuous year at McLaren in which he surrendered his world championship to Kimi Raikkonen and was unsettled by his rivalry with team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Alonso does not expect major improvement
The Spaniard is seventh in the 2008 championship after two races in which the Renault car has been well off the pace set by McLaren in Melbourne and Ferrari in Malaysia.
"I'm at Renault because I wanted to get back to winning, like in 2005 and 2006, if not this year then next year," Alonso said. "But I have an option to leave so I can be in the best possible car, and it is clear Ferrari is one of the best."
Alonso's comments have fuelled the speculation that he could join Ferrari after one season back at Renault.
However, his attempts to distance himself from that theory may have had the opposite effect as he highlighted errors made by Ferrari number two driver Felipe Massa at Melbourne and Sepang.

"It's early to talk about moves and rumours, but Massa has had two bad races with mistakes and that has kicked off speculation about me," Alonso said. "It's logical, but it's too early."
Renault managing director Flavio Briatore said it was a "waste of time to get involved in hypothetical daydreams." He said: "Fernando is a great sportsman who will always give his best and rumours I never comment on."
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali defended the role of Massa, who is under contract until 2010, despite the setback to the Italian team in both the drivers' and the constructors' championships.

"Felipe has all the qualities and the capabilities to do well," he added. "The championship is long and the team are united, so I see no worries from this aspect."
The Ferrari team were also running checks on the car to be sure a mechanical failure did not cause the spin-out.
At the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Massa retired after a collision and Raikkonen came to a halt with only five laps to race as Ferrari failed to collect any points - its worst start in 16 years. Alonso performed well at Melbourne, moving up from 11th on the grid to finish fourth.
While Alonso said he expected improvements in his car, he also suggested that rival teams would also perform better as the season progresses. "In Barcelona we will have some improvements for the car, (but) the same ones all teams will have, so the championship is going to stay more or less the same.
"We saw it last year and we see it every year. The cars that win the first two or three races stay on top. We are not going to see big surprises during the year."
Briatore, meanwhile, remained optimistic about the team and his star driver. "It does not make sense to judge a car after one or two races. Of course, McLaren and Ferrari have a fast car, but look what happened to Ferrari in Australia," Briatore said. "So we will have to wait and see how it will be at the next couple of races."

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