NOVEMBER 5, 2008
Renault to confirm Alonso today
Renault F1 is expected to confirm Fernando Alonso as its lead driver in 2009 later today. The big question is not whether the Spaniard will stay but rather who will be with him in the team. There have been rumours that the company is going to keep Nelson Piquet for another season but we have also heard that test driver Lucas di Grassi is a better bet for the long-term and that Pqiuet may be shunted out to Honda Racing F1, which is apparently keen to try him out. This would work out for Renault team boss Flavio Briatore, who owns a percentage in both drivers and thus will be able to earn from both rather than just one.
Di Grassi has impressed not only as a test driver but did a great job in GP2 this year with Campos Grand Prix (run by Briatore acolyte Alejandro Agag), finishing third in the title despite missing the first three races. Given that he was runner-up to Timo Glock in 2007 this was not entirely surprising.
Piquet says he is confident of staying with the team but his results this year have been patchy at best with a lucky second place in Germany, but otherwise only four points scoring finishes with fourth in Japan, sixth in Hungary, seventh in France and eighth in China. He finished 12th in the World Championship. There is an argument that he will do better next year having gained experience this season, but he came into F1 with plenty of testing mileage and many feel he does not have what it takes to be a topline star.