Alonso and Piquet to remain at Renault for 2009 05 Nov 2008
Renault have announced an unchanged driver line-up for next season with Fernando Alonso signing a two-year extension for 2009 and 2010, and Nelson Piquet confirmed for a further season.
The news brings to an end speculation over the future of both drivers. Alonso had been linked to a possible move to Honda, while many had questioned whether Piquet would be retained after a difficult maiden season with the team.
"We are happy to confirm both Fernando and Nelson for next season," said the teams Managing Director, Flavio Briatore. "This gives the ING Renault F1 Team one of the most exciting driver pairings with the perfect blend of youth and experience.
Fernando's commitment for the next two seasons confirms the faith he has in the team and we are delighted to continue working with him. He has been a big asset throughout this difficult season and his leadership and talent, matched with the team's hard work and determination, have paid off with our recent performances, which have placed the ING Renault F1 Team back among the top competitors of Formula One."
Alonso returned to Renault in 2008 after a one-year hiatus with McLaren, having previously won his two world titles with the French squad in 2005 and 2006. Following a difficult start to the season, they came on strong in the latter races, with the Spaniard scoring unexpected wins in Singapore and Japan to help the team to fourth place in the constructors championship.
"I have decided to stay with the ING Renault F1 team because, as I have often repeated this season, they have always been my first choice and I feel very happy and comfortable with them, said Alonso. It's a very close-knit team with a competitive and winning mentality, and also a relaxed and warm attitude, which suits me perfectly."
"After a difficult start to the season, we have overcome our difficulties and constantly improved our performances. My back-to-back wins in Singapore and Japan, and my recent second place podium finish in Brazil, have proved how competitive we can be. In the past we have won championships together, as well as going through tough moments, but we are now determined to show that we can repeat that success together in the coming seasons."
Piquets rookie campaign with Renault featured nine retirements, but also included a podium finish in Germany and four other point-scoring finishes as his form steadily improved throughout the season.
"Obviously I am delighted to have the opportunity to race for the ING Renault F1 Team for a second year, said the Brazilian. Although I have had a tough year, I have learned a lot from my rookie season and I will aim to put that experience to good use next season. I want to thank the team for their support this year and for the trust they have shown in me for the future. I'm already excited about 2009 and looking forward to working with the team over the winter so that we can start next season strongly."
Alonso finished fifth in the 2008 driver standings on 61 points, while Piquet ended the season 12th with 19 points.