Briatore's fury at reports of Renault's exit from F1

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The Independent Online

While the Renault team principal, Flavio Briatore, attacked the French media for suggesting that 2006 will be the team's last in Formula One, the company president, Carlos Ghosn, gave a cautious commitment to remain in the sport.

"As long as we perform at the top level there will not be so much question about our future in F1," said Ghosn. "There are questions about the format of the sport from 2008, but if we consider that the resolutions to these questions are good, and still receive a good return on our investment, then we should be there."

Briatore, dressed like a Butlins bluecoat, was more acerbic as he lambasted rumours in the French press of a withdrawal by Renault at the end of this season. These suggest that the company would sell their team and revert purely to being an engine supplier.

"I have heard what the French journalists have said and they need a new job," Briatore said. "It is false information that they have disseminated everywhere. Renault want to stay in F1 but only under certain conditions, like the other major manufacturers Mercedes-Benz, Honda, BMW and Toyota. They all want to see the same conditions."

If Renault are staying, however, it begs the question why Alonso preferred to jump ship by signing last December to drive for McLaren in 2007.

The champion dodged questions, and stuck to the stock response: "I do not think a driver can race all his career for the same team. I am still young and felt I needed a new challenge from 2007."

The Spaniard insists, like his predecessor as champion, Michael Schumacher, that winning last year has merely whetted his appetite. "I always race to win and will have the same motivation now, next year and when I am 50. I think to win in everything I do."

Alonso, and team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella, are enthused by the initial performance of their new R26. "It gives me very good feelings and we are confident of repeating our success of 2005," Alonso said.

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