Renault claim to be in pole position for Alonso deal

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The Independent Online

Renault's team principal, Flavio Briatore, insists they are "60 per cent" of the way towards re-signing Fernando Alonso for 2008, but other sources suggest the deal for the Spaniard to rejoin the team he quit for McLaren at the end of 2006 is far from certain.

Briatore said on the Italian radio show GrParlamento this week: "Renault will definitely have different drivers next year. There is a 60 per cent chance Alonso will be with us. We have an advantage because we know him. Between today and the day after tomorrow it will be decided."

However, reports from Spain and Italy yesterday suggest the situation has reached deadlock. Spanish sports daily Marca claims that while Briatore is happy to accept Alonso's demands for a one-year contract, the Renault CEO, Carlos Ghosn, wants at least three times that. The wire service Agenzia Giornalistica Italia quoted Ghosn as saying: "It's three years or nothing." Sources in Italy insist that the deal is done for Alonso to join world champion Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari from 2009.

However, the Spanish Telefonica company, a potential Renault sponsor, is lukewarm about both Briatore and Alonso, who is popular with the man in the street, but who is regarded as a loose cannon by the business community.