Hello and welcome back to Alex's F1 analysis.
Love it or hate it, it's no holds barred on this article so buckle up ....
In recent weeks, rumours around the paddock had Fernando Alonso hinting at a switch to Honda.
The probability of such a move is rather slim, in light of the kind of package Honda can offer to the talents of Alonso in both absolute and relative terms.
This may be one blessing in disguise if Honda gets it right with regards to the new rules changes coming into force for the 2009 season.
So why are those rumours still circulating anyways? Alonso had previously denied a switch to Honda.
Last year whilst moving away from McLaren, the media went so far as to announce Alonso undergoing a seat testing at the Brackley-based outfit—allegations denied by the former double world champion.
More recently, Alonso was asked whether he would, whilst waiting for a seat to free up at Ferrari in 2010, consider a drive for 2009 at Honda; and again the Oviedo native dismissed these claims, stating he would stay at Renault for the time being.
Now on Aug. 8, 2008, with a much rumoured £7.6 million contract on the table, the question is not will Alonso sign with Honda, but when?
Furthermore with the like of mind genius Ross Brawn and the ever positive Nick Fry working around the clock to build a harder-better-faster-stronger Honda outfit; these rumours are fast becoming all the more credible.
This is in light of Renault's failure to deliver a truly competitive package that match the expectations of a former double world champion, a driver still considered by many to be pound for pound the best F1 driver of the 21st Century to date.
This just adds oil to the flame in the form of a strong incentive to get out of Renault whilst the opportunity is there.
The fact that Alonso can bring extra pace to a car is undeniable. Last year, he fought to defend his championship going into every Grand Prix with motivation—a stark contrast with our current champion, who has already hinted at retirement.
Considering 2010 is the year he'll be switching to Ferrari is even more so; as long as Kimi Raikkonen retires of course. But Alonso may not like the idea of sticking for an extra year of hiatus at Renault.
Looking for another challenge somewhere else is on the menu whilst, of course, keeping his eye on the ball, i.e., Scuderia Ferrari.
With regards to Raikkonen's retirement plans, Malcolm Wilson, head of Ford WRC, has offered Raikkonen a test drive, looking to get the Iceman on board for the 2010 WRC championship.
Even reigning champion Sebastien Loeb was quoted as welcoming a big name like Raikkonen into WRC as a good thing for the sport, and why not?
Regardless Alonso, can pretty much leave Renault, but if he does, that leaves some strong indication that the Enstone-based French manufacturer will not be putting the heat on in 2009.
Otherwise, Alonso would not be moving to the other end of the midfield unless he perceived a genuine opportunity to make something out of it next year, so watch this space...
Then again, we are far from a signature on a piece of paper with a cool £7.6 million attached to it.
With regards to the latest development surrounding Alonso's future past 2008, it is interesting to note how the Oviedo native is managing his hiatus at present; his performances have not matched his true potential which is not a surprise considering the mess he's in.
However with Jarno Trulli four points clear of him and Mark Webber level on points, it is interesting to note Alonso is doing well in the midfield battle. The question is how much more can he do in the face of a tougher Toyota package and an upcoming RBR one.
Time will tell. In the mean time, whether or not Alonso will go to Honda next year is in my view not the best of moves, as Button and Barrichello could only manage three and 11 points respectively so far.
A move to Brackley won't help the former double world champion back to the top, but it will definitely give him some thing new to try since he's stuck for another year in the midfield. Why not?