Alonso in a Jaguar

Fernando Alonso, Japanese GP 2001

Fernando Alonso, Japanese GP 2001 

 © The Cahier Archive

THE announcement on Monday that Spain's Fernando Alonso is to test a Jaguar-Cosworth R3 this week has a number of interesting ramifications. The deal has been dressed up as a way for Jaguar to assess its two young test drivers James Courtney and Andre Lotterer. It is not clear why the two cannot be assessed against the more proven talents of Eddie Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa. Alonso showed well on occasion last year with Minardi but there are many in F1 who think he is rather over-rated at the moment.

What is interesting is that Renault was willing to loan out its test driver and one must conclude that the test is as much about Jaguar Racing taking a look at Alonso as it is about Jaguar assessing its own test drivers. Alonso went to Renault this year on the understanding that he would get back to racing in 2003 but it looks increasingly likely that Renault will keep Jenson Button and Jarno Trulli and that means that Alonso must be found a drive as he is believed to have a pay-and-play contract which means that the team must supply him with a car to race in 2003. Jaguar Racing is one obvious option as a place for Renault to park Alonso.

There is little doubt that there will be at least one drive available at Jaguar next year as Eddie Irvine is unlikely to stay, unless he is willing to take a huge cut in salary. This year he has not done much better than Pedro de la Rosa. The arrival of Alonso at Jaguar Racing would however make it difficult for the team to run de la Rosa as two Spaniards will not help Jaguar in its desire to sell more Jaguars around the world.

The test will also be the chance for Alonso to show off his talents to other Formula 1 teams.

We would hazard a guess therefore that Button will be confirmed as a Renault driver in 2003 and 2004 at some point in the next few weeks, probably at the French Grand Prix.

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