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Alonso determined to return to the top 31 Jan 2008

Fernando Alonso (ESP), Renault. Renault R28 Launch, Renault Square, Paris, France, 31 January 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton Back row (L to R): Luca di Grassi (BRA) Renault and Romain Grosjean (FRA) Front row (L to R): (L to R): Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault, Flavio Briatore (ITA) Renault Team Principal and Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault. Renault R28 Launch, Renault Square, Paris, France, 31 January 2008. World ©  Hartley/Sutton L-R: Nelson Piquet Jr (BRA) and Fernando Alonso (ESP), Renault. Renault R28 Launch, Renault Square, Paris, France, 31 January 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton

A resolute Fernando Alonso has vowed to lead Renault back to their winning ways during the coming season. Speaking at the official launch of the R28 in Paris on Thursday, Alonso said he is hopeful that, with enough hard work, the team’s fortunes can improve during 2008.

The Spaniard took two consecutive world titles with the French squad in 2005 and 2006 and scored 15 of his 19 career wins before leaving for a troublesome yearlong sabbatical with McLaren. He returned to Renault last December and has since tested twice for the team, spending several days running in the R28.

“The entire team is absolutely determined to get back to the top, they are pushing very hard and that is a big motivation for me,” said the 26 year-old. “First and foremost, I am a racer, and I obviously want to win. I will do my maximum to make that happen, and I know that is what is expected from me.

“Some people have suggested that I have unfinished business from 2007, but that's not the way I look at it. Iam preparing for this season the same way I always have done: by concentrating on my job. My first feeling with the car was good and the team is working incredibly hard. It looks encouraging at the moment.”

Partnering the former world champion for the '08 season will be Nelson Piquet Jr, who finished runner-up in the 2006 GP2 series. Piquet covered over 8,000 testing kilometres for Renault last year and hopes to continue to build on that experience before March’s season opener in Australia.

“Melbourne still seems a long way off to me,” said the 22 year-old Brazilian. “We have a lot of work to do beforehand, and I am focused on the next test sessions and our development programme. That will help me improve my physical condition too, because driving is always the best preparation; and I can continue learning to make sure I am ready for my first Grand Prix.

“My aim this year is to get the maximum out of the package, and to do a good job for the team. There will be a lot to learn and I am not underestimating the challenge of Formula One.”

Supporting Piquet and Alonso will be third driver Lucas di Grassi and tester Romain Grosjean. Brazilian di Grassi, who finished runner-up in the 2007 GP2 championship, will conduct the majority of the team’s development work alongside the race drivers, while Grosjean will combine a seat in the 2008 GP2 series with occasional tests for Renault.