Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jnr at Renault in 2008?

Nelson Piquet Jnr, Renault, Fuji Speedway, 2007 | Glenn Dunbar / LAT PhotographicAs speculation grows over Fernando Alonso’s future, Renault’s Flavio Briatore had this to say about his driver pairing for 2008:

Renault will certainly have different drivers next year. Alonso has a 60% chance of coming to us.

Alonso moving to Renault has been tipped for some time. His most likely partner there – assuming it isn’t Giancarlo Fisichella or Heikki Kovalainen – would be test driver Nelson Piquet Jnr. The Brazilian has been on the sidelines for a year since finishing runner-up to Lewis Hamilton in GP2 and is keen to go racing again.

So where would Fisichella and Kovalainen end up?

Kovalainen has been linked to Alonso’s old seat at McLaren, a team which has been home to all the other top Finnish F1 drivers at one time or another (Keke Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen, Kimi Raikkonen).

Fisichella, whose reputation has taken a battering in the last three years, could well end up in retirement, or perhaps a testing role at Renault.

But what happens if Alonso doesn’t go to Renault – the ’40%’ chance? If Renault get hit with a McLaren-size fine in the latest spying row perhaps they won’t be able to afford him – or perhaps Alonso will refuse to drive for a ‘tainted’ team?

Fernando Alonso, Renault, Suzuka, 2006 | Charles Coates / LAT PhotographicAlonso’s alternatives to Renault look increasingly slim. Toyota have said they can’t afford him and seem to have a full complement of drivers for 2008 in Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock.

Similarly Williams have Kazuki Nakajima and Nico Rosberg – although Ron Dennis is apparently keen on nabbing the latter to fill Alonso’s place. Force India and Super Aguri would surely be out of the question.

An outside chance could be BMW. Nick Heidfeld came up through the McLaren driver development programme and Hamilton was heard speculating that Heidfeld could end up at McLaren next year despite his contract with BMW. To Alonso it would represent a good chance of having a competitive car next year.

A more likely scenario could see Alonso join Red Bull. Mark Webber is contracted to Red Bull for 2008 but as Flavio Briatore is his manager (and Red Bull use Renault engines) perhaps an opening might be found there, with Webber moving to Renault.

That way Webber would get a top line drive and Alonso and David Coulthard could grumble about Ron Dennis to each other. Everybody wins!

Well, except Fisichella…

Photos: Glenn Dunbar / LAT Photographic | Charles Coates / LAT Photographic

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9 comments on Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jnr at Renault in 2008?

  1. Oh I hope that Webber doesn’t get shafted out of Red Bull. He has been in the right place at the wrong time all career and if he leaves for Renault he is abandoning a rising team for a sinking one.
    Although if Alonso thought that lewis was tough to deal with I would love to see how he handles the gruff Aussie.
    Next year is looking awesome for young driver talent. Seb V, Seb B, Timo, Piquet, Nakajima all getting their first real shot.

  2. seen piquet jnr in A1 racing and I was very impressed but during the season he tended to die off at times – but it would be a great name back in F1 – but next year no driver aids allowed – lots of new faces = maybe lot’s of first corner shunts?? = expensive for the lower order teams maybe.

  3. Journeyer said on 19th November 2007, 23:06

    Keith, in your last scenario, Nelsinho also loses out. Many say he was already promised a race drive for 2008, so he’d be guttered if he didn’t get it.

    I agree, Mark. We have Vettel, Bourdais, Glock, Piquet, and Nakajima for 2008. In 2007, we had Hamilton, Kovalainen, Kubica, and Rosberg. In 2001, we had Alonso, Raikkonen, and Montoya. The talent requirement is continuously increasing, and that can only be a good thing.

  4. I wonder how Piquet Jnr would feel about being a designated number 2 driver?

  5. Hm, Briatore also said that Alonso’s future in Renault will be decided this week… If that is the case that would be before the Renault spy case is heard.

  6. Nathan Jones said on 20th November 2007, 6:28

    maybe a webber alonso swap? so webbo at macca?
    nobody has suggested that and it could happen!

  7. That has been suggested, by me :-) in some older discussion here. That would be fun though, Webber loves Hamilton especially after Fuji race, that would be another dream team for Dennis :-)

    Alonso Piquet is also interesting prospect – another pairing of Alonso and hungry rookie … Braitore’s words “You can’t have two primadonnas inside a team. You need to get behind one of the drivers” mean that Piquet would have to swallow the bitter pill and begin his F1 career as a sucessor of Trulli and Fisi in Renault …

  8. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th November 2007, 11:13

    Spanish newspaper Marca this morning has suggested that Renault want at least a three-year deal with Alonso, which would be a problem for him if he really has done a deal with Ferrari for 2009.

  9. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th November 2007, 18:36

    And Briatore’s had some complimentary things to say about Piquet:

    Nelsinho, let us not forget, fought to the very end with Hamilton in GP2 last year. He has an incredible potential; he could be a real surprise.

    Regarding Kovalainen, he had an undriveable car but so far he has done really well. We will see.

    F1-Live: Briatore praises Piquet (external)

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