Double world champion Fernando Alonso has return back to his spiritual home that is the Renault F1 team for the 2008 championship. The Spaniard will partner rising Brazilian star Nelsinho Piquet, son of three times world champion Nelson Piquet.
The new line-up means Heikki Kovalainen and Giancarlo Fisichella without a drive for next season, though it later emerges that Kovalainen will partner Lewis Hamilton at McLaren in 2008. As for Fisichella, he is hoping to land the race drive at the new Force India team (formerly Spyker).
It wasn’t a surprise for Alonso to go back to Flavio Briatore’s team to be honest. After suffering a traumatic first season at McLaren in 2007 racing against both Ron Dennis and young hotshot that is Hamilton, his decision to move back to Renault was a right choice for both parties.
Alonso will earn around £25m as part of his two-year contract at Renault. The Spaniard will become the highest paid driver in the post-Schumacher era of Formula One, though he has a ‘get out’ clause if he wishes to join Ferrari and team up with Kimi Raikkonen in the near future.
As for Nelson Piquet Jr, this opportunity to race alongside the world champion will be a massive benefit for the GP2 race winner. The Brazilian can learn the ropes and perhaps might beat his highly rated team-mate in the races!
The 2008 world championship will be crucial for Briatore, as the team suffered it most disappointing season since 2002. After taking the championship double (drivers’ and constructors’ title) in 2005 and 2006, it was shocking to see the former champions suffer with a lack of decent race result. The best result in 2007 was Kovalainen’s superb second place in a rain-lashed Japanese Grand Prix.
Hopefully next year will bring good fortune for Briatore, Alonso and Piquet Jr but it will be a tough challenge against the mighty Ferrari and McLaren race teams. Let see how competitive the new Renault R28 chassis will be.