Current Standings

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Red Bull, Renault, lead chase for Alonso - ''I have presented a plan to Fernando'' - Briatore

The rush is on to secure the services of the newly liberated former McLaren driver Fernando Alonso for 2008.

Leading the race to sign the double world champion are Renault and Red Bull Racing, according to reports on Saturday.

"There are always talks everywhere and with everyone," Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz told the Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten, albeit admitting that his outfit already has 'fixed contracts' with two drivers for next season.

One of them is David Coulthard, who found time to also speak with the newspaper despite currently being on vacation.

"If Red Bull intends to get Alonso, I am sure I would know about it. So I doubt that it is happening," the Scottish veteran said.

Coulthard's management told the British newspaper The Guardian: "We haven't heard a word. The team has an obligation to enter David in next year's championship and, if they are moving for Fernando, I'd like to think we would know."

Furthermore, it is understood that team boss Christian Horner is far less enthusiastic than Mateschitz about the concept of booting out Coulthard or Mark Webber to make room for Alonso.

But Germany's Bild newspaper quoted Mateschitz as adding: "In Formula One, nothing is for sure.
" He also described the $26m Alonso rumours as "a great compliment for us."

Apparently more resolute, however, are Flavio Briatore's plans to reunite the Spaniard with Renault.

"I have presented a plan to Fernando about the future," the Italian is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"If he wants to cooperate with us again, it can happen. I know how much he can offer to Renault," team boss Briatore added, but he played down suggestions that Renault is prepared to play along with a merely single-year deal.

"An agreement for one year would not make sense," he insisted.

Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn also seems in favour of Alonso's return.

Asked about the rumour, he said: "Briatore is in charge of the Alonso case. I delegate all sporting decisions to him.

"But primarily Renault must occupy a role in Formula One among the favourites," Ghosn added.

Source GMM
© CAPSIS International

Fernando Alonso in demand - ernando Alonso in demand

The chase was on to sign up former Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso for next season with his old employers at Renault leading the way, Spanish sports newspapers reported on Saturday.

Marca said that Renault boss Flavio Briatore was meeting with the French team's lawyers to hammer out the terms of a new contract that would shortly be offered to the 26-year-old Spaniard.

Renault, the paper said, were keen to sign up Alonso, who won his two world titles with them in 2005 and 2006 before leaving for McLaren, to a deal of at least two years in duration.

Marca said that Japanese carmakers Toyota had already offered a lucrative contract to Alonso but that he had turned it down.

Also in the hunt for the driver, who left McLaren on Friday after completing just one year of a three-year contract, were BMW Sauber, Red Bull Renault and Williams Toyota, the paper said.

They speculated that Alonso would likely opt to join one of the smaller teams on the Formula One circuit, in a transitional phase before eventually securing a move to Ferrari.

The AS sports daily said that the favourites to sign up Alonso on a one-year deal was Red Bull.

Source AFP

McLaren confirm Alonso exit - A joint decision to part ways

After a turbulent season, McLaren Mercedes today confirmed that double world champion Fernando Alonso will not race with the team in 2008. The following is a press release from the team.

Following a meeting between Fernando Alonso and McLaren, it was agreed that it would be in the best interests of both parties to bring the relationship to an end.

The mutual parting of ways has not been discussed until now, since it was felt that any such discussion could have seriously disrupted the team’s and Fernando’s 2007 Formula 1 World Championship challenge. Both parties believe that this was the right decision.

Fernando Alonso
“Since I was a boy I had always wanted to drive for McLaren, but sometimes in life things do not work out. I continue to believe that McLaren is a great team. Yes, we have had our ups and downs during the season, which has made it extra-challenging for all of us, and it is not a secret that I never really felt at home. I know there have been suggestions of favouritism within the team and people say a lot of things in the heat of battle, but in the end I was always provided with an equal opportunity to win.

"Today’s decision allows all of us to focus on 2008, and I wish the team, Vodafone, Banco Santander, Mutua MadrileƱa and all the other team Partners who I have worked closely with during the year, the best for the future.”

Ron Dennis
“Everybody at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, especially McLaren’s Spanish Partners Banco Santander and Mutua MadrileƱa and the team’s title partner Vodafone, want to wish Fernando all the best for the future. He is a great driver but for some reason the combination of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and Fernando has not really worked out, and in the end we reached a stage where none of us could find a way to move forward."

"We all believe that our joint decision to part company is for the best, and we will now continue to focus on our 2008 World Championship challenge.”

Source McLaren Mercedes

Alonso not feeling pressure - Kovalainen

Heikki Kovalainen has hit out at suggestions that F1's reigning world champion is "feeling the pressure" of racing alongside Lewis Hamilton in 2007. The media made a meal of Fernando Alonso's claim this week that he has always felt "uncomfortable" at the McLaren team in 2007, after he lost the lead of the drivers' championship to his rookie teammate in Canada. British newspapers interpreted the outburst as the Spaniard losing his cool; the Daily Mail declaring that he "has been rattled" by Hamilton's impressive showing.

"The Spaniard, normally resilient, appears to have one weakness -- he cannot cope with being embarrassed by a teammate."

The Times pointed to "a succession of errors" for 25-year-old Alonso, adding that his scrappy performance in Montreal "underlines that (he) is not only feeling the pressure from Hamilton's raw speed but is also being worn down by the Briton's poise and presence of mind in the heat of battle."

F1 rookie Kovalainen, however - who replaced Alonso at the championship winning Renault team in 2007 - told the BBC that it's "not right" for his predecessor to be accused of failing to cope with pressure.

The Finn, who worked alongside Alonso as a test driver last year, said: "I don't think Hamilton has any impact on him.

"He has shown time and again in the past that he is mentally very tough and in a long career he has not made many mistakes.

"He pushes very hard for the win every race and mistakes can happen when you race like that.

"Yes, he made might have made a mistake in Barcelona and one early on again in Canada, and because they have happened in a short period of time it looks very dramatic, but I don't think it affects him.

"He is still one of the top guys out there and he is going to be very strong, fighting for the championship for sure."

Alonso not disadvantaged, Dennis insists

Oct.20 (GMM) Ron Dennis on Saturday played down any suggestion that McLaren's qualifying tactics disadvantaged Fernando Alonso in Brazil.

Spaniard Alonso, the lowest placed McLaren or Ferrari runner after the decisive qualifying session of the season at Interlagos, suggested that his super-soft Bridgestones wore out for his final flying lap because he had to push too hard on the out-lap.

"The main problem was starting behind my teammate as usual," he told Italian television RAI.

Dennis, the McLaren chief, confirmed that McLaren ran the clock close in the 'Q3' phase as both Lewis Hamilton and teammate Alonso were given an additional fuel burning lap.

But Alonso, 26, commented: "To pass the finish line with just three seconds to go makes you go too fast on the out lap."

Dennis reacted to reporters: "I don't think it hampered either driver.

"They both got the same advantage and we're quite happy with qualifying.

"We obviously cut it fine but it all worked as planned. Fernando and Lewis had the same advantage."

Alonso manager denies Renault deal done

Oct.22 (GMM) Fernando Alonso and his manager at Interlagos repeated their denials that a deal to return to Renault next year is now effectively done. Speculation is rife that a letter of intent or a verbal agreement - that would be formalised if he can win a release from his McLaren contract - are now in place with the Spaniard's former team.

The newspaper 'Marca' reports that Alonso's father Jose Luis, and manager Luis Garcia Abad, were at the weekend seen in conversation in Renault's hospitality area.

But Alonso's manager bristled at the mention of a done Renault deal.

"It is false, an absolute lie," he said. "We have a contract with McLaren, so we cannot sign with another team. It is forbidden," he is quoted as saying.

It should be pointed out that the Swiss based Contract Recognition Board has hefty penalties within its power should a driver be found to have a contractual relationship with two teams.

Garcia Abad would not comment on whether the CRB can rule against verbal agreements.

Alonso, meanwhile, would not confirm his future before departing Interlagos on Sunday.

"I don't know," he told reporters. "We will see what happens. As I always say, the first thing to see is that I have a contract for the coming years with McLaren.

"Speculation about whether I go to this team or another team are all lies, because until we see what McLaren want to do, there is nothing," he added.

McLaren organised a team dinner in Sao Paulo on Sunday evening. Alonso and his representatives did not attend.

Alonso makes case for number one status

Fernando Alonso thinks Monaco would have helped his quest to emerge as McLaren's clear 'number one' for the rest of 2007. The Spaniard is tied on points in the drivers' championship with rookie teammate Lewis Hamilton, but Monte Carlo was his second win for the silver camp.

"It is understandable that the team still has doubts about who should be the number one," Alonso is quoted as saying by the Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport.

He said: "We are tied on points and we have the same opportunities, which is why winning in Monaco was very important from that point of view.

"Now it is up to me to take advantage of it."

Alonso also dismissed the British press' furious suggestions last week that only illegal team orders prevented Hamilton from going for the win in Monaco.

"The only certainty is that if you arrive at your first pit stop with a ten second disadvantage to your teammate, it is going to be very difficult for you to pass him," the 25-year-old said.

Alonso manager confirms McLaren split

Fernando Alonso's manager has confirmed that the 26-year-old Spaniard is free to leave McLaren ahead of the 2008 season. Widespread Spanish sources - including the news agency EFE and newspapers Diario As, El Mundo Deportivo and Marca - said Alonso's legal representatives successfully negotiated a split in meetings at McLaren's Woking (UK) headquarters on Thursday and Friday morning.

The double world champion, who signed a multi year contract with boss Ron Dennis that began in 2007, reportedly does not need to pay any compensation to McLaren, and is free to join any rival team next year.

"Fernando will no longer be with McLaren," Alonso's manager Luis Garcia Abad is quoted as telling Diario As.

He added: "I can confirm that. He is free to join any other team next season."

A McLaren spokeswoman would not comment on the strengthening reports, but it is expected that the team will make an announcement about the newly vacant seat in the coming hours or days.

Alonso lawyer set for McLaren visit - report

A lawyer representing Fernando Alonso is due to meet with McLaren officials at Woking on Wednesday, according to a Spanish sports daily. The newspaper 'Marca' claims that the meeting is the first step to deciding the 26-year-old's future at the Mercedes-powered team, including the possibility of an early end to a minimally two-year contract that began in 2007.

Alonso's manager Luis Garcia Abad, however, denied the story to the British newspaper The Guardian, and also rejected team boss Ron Dennis' recent claim that the uncertainty will be cleared up soon.

"Nothing is urgent. We are trying to rest a little. I have no special meetings with McLaren scheduled," he said.

Abad also played down rumours that Alonso could be heading for Williams next year. The latest whisper is that he could team up in 2008 alongside Mark Webber at Red Bull on a single-year contract.

"We have a contract next year with McLaren and that's it. Can they sell it? Without our approval, no they cannot," Alonso's manager insisted.

Alonso insists no 'bad thoughts'

Fernando Alonso has bucked reports that the opening few races of 2007 have left him 'rattled'. The reigning world champion and drivers' championship leader might be forgiven for feeling flustered about the performance and hype of his rookie teammate at McLaren in 2007, Lewis Hamilton, or his lacklustre outing earlier this month in Bahrain.

But Alonso, 25, is quoted by the Spanish news agency EFE as insisting that he still considers himself to be in a honeymoon-like period of this season.

The next grand prix is at Barcelona, where a sellout crowd of Alonso's countrymen are expected.

"You are always really optimistic during the first months of a season," he said, "and you think that you can repeat all of your past successes.

"There are no bad thoughts at all -- they usually come a little bit later, when things happen and you start to have doubts."

Alonso insisted: "But at the beginning of the season all of your expectations and predictions are good ones."

The Spaniard said switching from Renault after five years at the French team has left him feeling "refreshed".

"I have a different image but I have not changed as a person," Alonso continued.

"But changing teams has made me feel ready for new challenges; I feel that this is a new chapter in my life and it is exactly what I needed."

He failed to match Briton Hamilton's pace last time out in Bahrain but Alonso insists that he approaches every race freshly and "thinking that I can win".

"Five minutes before you put on your helmet it would be a mistake to think that you are not going to beat everyone," he explained.

Alonso is media's top driver - study

A university study has found that world champion Fernando Alonso is the most media-popular driver in formula one. The University of Navarra, situated in the north of Spain, said research based on the quantity of internet pages and news items shows that the 25-year-old McLaren driver is having the greatest impact on the world's media, notwithstanding the near-unprecedented attention devoted to his rookie teammate Lewis Hamilton.

In the Italian and German markets, however, Kimi Raikkonen came out on top, presumably due to his association with Maranello based Ferrari and the fact that in 2007 he replaces Germany's retired seven time world champion Michael Schumacher, who occupied Alonso's role as most media-popular a year ago.

Ferrari, meanwhile, is the most media-popular team, beating McLaren, the university study found, and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone the most famous non-driving formula one personality.

Jean Todt (Ferrari) is the most popular boss, followed by Ron Dennis (McLaren) and Renault's Flavio Briatore