Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jnr at Renault in 2008?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

More on the 2008 driver market