Q&A with Renault's Fernando Alonso 10 Dec 2007
After a difficult year for both parties, Renault have confirmed that Fernando Alonso will return to the French team next season. Before Alonso jumped ship to McLaren, the winning union won consecutive double titles in 2005 and 06 and with the news theyre getting back together, they could recreate that same magic again. Here the Spaniard discusses his decision and hints at what he hopes to achieve in 2008
Q: Fernando, you are the new ING Renault F1 Team Driver for 2008. Happy?
Fernando Alonso: Yes, very. Everybody knows what a great team ING Renault F1 Team is and what they have accomplished in Formula One. You cant forget that together, we won the championships back-to-back in 2005 and 2006. I had the chance to be part of this success. It is one of the greatest teams, supported by important companies. A team that knows what it takes to win.
Q: Has it been a long wait? How did you feel the past few weeks while waiting for the decision to be made?
FA: To be honest, the first three weeks of November, I was on a much needed vacation and during which I disconnected from Formula One. The decision to choose a team did not take more than a week, as me and the people close to me were clear about what we wanted.
Q: Why did you choose Renault? How many options did you have?
FA: Options well, to tell you the truth, we do know thats not easy. Im one of the 22 privileged people who get to drive a Formula One car each year and Im even more privileged to be one of those who can afford leaving one great team and end up in another great team, while there are a lot of drivers who never get the chance to drive a Formula One car. The decision hasnt been an easy one to make. I would like to thank all the other teams for their interest to have me work with them. Like I said before, I chose Renault in the end considering their commitment to the sport and because of their strong track record.
Q: Do you realise how much media attention you have drawn?
FA: Not really because like I said the first three weeks I was on holiday, but as soon as we started to look at our options we realised that all the newspapers and almost every website reported that we had already been in contact with all the teams. They were talking about a one-year contract or a three-year contract, even saying that I had been visiting factories, some suggesting I was taking a year off. Thats when I realised what was going on and it was fun to read every morning the papers.
Q: But dont you think its normal for people to be eager to find out where you were going to race or if youd end up without a drive?
FA: Well, it would have never come to me not having a drive for next season. Sure it was not like I had to choose between a grey pair of trousers and a black one. We are talking about a very important decision and since I could not get back at the wheel of a car until January or February, there was no rush. I understand why people were so eager. The fans have always been the ones to support me. I still remember how much people have been there for me this year and how much it touched me. Maybe I never saw what they really were told, because there was some sort of competition between the newspapers as to which one of them would print the news first. Too much has been invented.
Q: What grade would you give your past season with McLaren?
FA: Its not easy to sum up a season with just a grade or a number. What is certain is that 2007 has been a very good year for me in spite of what people think. I dont like that people forget that 20 laps before the race lap in Brazil I still could have won the world championship. Then, Kimi overtook Massa and Kimi, with this victory, scored the number of points he needed to be world champion. When you take this into account, at the start of the season I would have put my signature for being able to fight till the last laps of the season, for a new world title, I would have been more than happy.
Q: What will happen next season?
FA: This is a question we all ask and I believe nobody can answer for certain. You know that teams like Ferrari will always be favourites. Also, the teams who have had problems adjusting to the Bridgestone tyres will hopefully have solved their problems and will be back at the top. Maybe Renault can be part of the top teams again this season. Todays challenge is for Renault to go back to the top of the sheet already in January or February and then come closer to the podiums next season. They have suffered more than enough this year.
Q: Will you fight again for the world title next season?
FA: We will see what can be done We shouldnt put the cart before the horse. The first thing to do is to put the R28 on track in January and then start working thoroughly in order to get to the first Grand Prix of the season with the best car possible. I had to rise to the same challenge last year during the winter season and I am confident that this can happen again. After that, I will have to have a perfect season and hope for the others not to be too quick.