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Alonso to partner Piquet at Renault for 2008 10 Dec 2007

Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Mercedes 
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, 21 October 2007 Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R27 Formula One Testing, Day Two, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Friday, 23 February 2007. World © Patching/Sutton World Champion Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault celebrates with the team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Interlagos, Brazil, 22 October 2006 Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R27 F1 Testing, Day Three, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Friday, 24 February 2007. World © Patching/Sutton

Fernando Alonso will race for Renault next season alongside Nelson Piquet Jr, it was confirmed on Monday. The move marks Alonso’s return to the team with whom he won two world titles and follows a troubled 2007 season with McLaren.

Piquet’s promotion from test driver to race seat means Renault will field an all-new line-up for next season - and leaves current stars Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen without confirmed drives for 2008.

“I am delighted to be returning to Renault,” said Alonso. “This is the team where I grew up as a driver in Formula One. Now it is time for us to begin a new chapter together. I am very excited about working with this great team once more, and confident that together we can move back to the front of the field. Renault had a difficult year in 2007, but I know that the team has real strength in depth. I am confident they can produce a fast and competitive car and be back at the top in 2008.”

“Fernando and Nelsinho will form one of the most exciting driver line-up of 2008,” commented Renault team principal Flavio Briatore. “We are delighted to be welcoming Fernando back home to the team where he enjoyed his greatest success. His abilities as a driver and a team leader are well known, and we look forward to forging another strong partnership. What’s more, he knows the team well and how we operate; he will feel comfortable straight away in this environment.

Alonso, 26, previously drove for Renault between 2003 and 2006, during which time he scored 15 Grand Prix victories and won two drivers’ championships, in 2005 and 2006.

Meanwhile, 22-year-old Brazilian Piquet spent 2007 as Renault’s test and reserve driver, after finishing runner-up in the 2006 GP2 series championship. The Brazilian will now make his Formula One debut at the 2008 Australian Grand Prix.

“First of all, I want to thank Flavio and Renault for putting their confidence in me for 2008,” said Piquet. “It is a fantastic opportunity to make my Formula One debut with one of the top teams on the grid, and alongside one of the very best drivers in the sport. This drive is something I have been working towards since the end of 2006, and I am proud that my performances as test driver have earned me this position. I am looking forward to teaming up with Fernando, and learning from him. As a rookie, there is no better way to start your career than to have a double world champion as your reference point.”

Briatore added: “Nelsinho is one of the most promising young talents in motorsport. After his success in GP2, he has spent a year learning the ropes as our test driver and getting to know the team; he is now ready to step up to the next level.”

Alonso and Piquet will be supported by Frenchman Romain Grosjean, reigning 2007 F3 Euroseries Champion and a product of Renault’s driver development scheme, in the role of test driver.