Alonso returns to Renault as No 1 driver for 2008

Almost two years to the day he informed team principal Flavio Briatore that he would be leaving to join McLaren-Mercedes for 2007, the former world champion Fernando Alonso was confirmed yesterday as the Renault team's lead driver for 2008.

The announcement follows weeks of speculation, and last week's decision by the World Motor Sport Council in Monaco not to apply any penalty to the team even though they were deemed to have been in possession of intellectual property stolen (from McLaren).

Alonso's return is bad news for Renault's 2007 drivers, Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen. The former is in the frame at Force India, where Tonio Liuzzi is favourite to get the nod over a driver seen to be well past his best, while following the news that Nico Rosberg has inked a new deal with Williams, Kovalainen remains a strong potential candidate for the McLaren seat alongside Lewis Hamilton.

Alonso will thus be partnered by Nelson Piquet Jnr, 22, son of the former triple champion, with the Frenchman Romain Grosjean, the 2007 F3 Euroseries champion, taking over the Brazilian's testing role.

"Fernando and Nelsinho [Piquet Jnr] will form one of the most exciting driver line-ups of 2008," Briatore said. "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. He knows the team well and how we operate; he will feel comfortable straight away in this environment."

"I am delighted to be returning to Renault," Alonso, 26, said. "This is the team where I grew up as a driver in Formula One. Now it is time for us to begin a new chapter together. I am very excited about working with this great team once more, and confident that together we can move back to the front of the field. Renault had a difficult year in 2007, but I know that the team have real strength in depth."

No term for Alonso's new contract has been given, but it is thought to be for one year only as sources are adamant he has a Ferrari contract from 2009. Speaking of the delay while negotiations continued, he said: "The first three weeks of November, I was on a much-needed vacation during which I disconnected from Formula One. The decision to choose a team did not take more than a week, as me and the people close to me were clear about what we wanted.

"To tell you the truth, we do know it's not easy. I'm one of the 22 privileged people who get to drive a Formula One car each year and I'm even more privileged to be one of those who can afford to leave one great team and end up in another great team. The decision hasn't been an easy one to make. I chose Renault in the end considering their commitment to the sport and because of their strong track record," Alonso added.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us