Now that the 2008 Formula One championship is decided, teams will begin moving on confirming their drivers for next season. And while several already have, one major question mark has just been resolved as Renault has confirmed the extension of Fernando Alonso's contract. And not just for next season, but through 2010. Along with it, they've confirmed his team-mate's contract through next season as well, giving the team continuity for its upcoming assault on the title.
Renault managed a notable recovery in the latter part of this season that saw Alonso win two races back to back. And while that may be a far cry from the two titles he won with the team a couple of years back, it's a start. That no doubt had a positive impact on Fernando's decision to stay with the team, but insiders were surprised to see him sign for two more years instead of one. Meanwhile, though Nelson Piquet Jr. had a rough start to the season, he managed to pull off some noteworthy performances when the team found its form again, earning him a renewal as well.
The hirings should allow the rest of F1's teams, now relieved of the suspense, to confirm their drivers for next season. So far, Ferrari, McLaren, BMW Sauber, Williams and now Renault have announced they're sticking with the same pairings, and Red Bull has confirmed Sebastian Vettel is moving up to take Coulthard's seat alongside Mark Webber, leaving Toro Rosso, Toyota, Honda and Force India to announce their drivers for the upcoming season. Stay tuned.
[Source: Renault F1]
The ING Renault F1 Team confirms its 2009 driver line-up
The ING Renault F1 Team is pleased to announce that it will field an unchanged line-up next season with Fernando Alonso signing a two year extension for 2009 and 2010, and Nelson Piquet confirmed for a further season. "We are happy to confirm both Fernando and Nelson for next season," commented 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 1."
Fernando Alonso commented: "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. 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," continued Fernando. "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."
Nelson Piquet added: "Obviously I am delighted to have the opportunity to race for the ING Renault F1 Team for a second year. 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."