Fernando Alonso Rekindles Old Form, Should Stay with Renault

Kyle LavigneAnalyst IOctober 3, 2008

The 2008 season hasn’t been what the double world champion from Spain wanted.

His fallout with McLaren came at a time when few rides were available; his subsequent choice to return to Renault has seen him struggle to score regular points, let alone compete for race wins and podiums.

However, the team and car has improved as the year has gone on, giving hope that Alonso could at least see the podium this year. At the same time, cases of bad luck and overdriving have caused such opportunities to slip away.

He qualified second in Barcelona and seemed to be poised for a podium in one of his home races. However, a poor race start and first stint dropped him back, and mechanical failure ended his day.

In Monaco, the rain gave him a real chance to show his struggles were due to the car, not the driver. Alonso’s known to be one of the best wet-weather drivers, and he was very fast in the opening laps.

However, an overly optimistic pass attempt on Nick Heidfeld failed; Alonso dropped back, and Alonso finished out of the points.

In Canada, the collision between Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen gave Alonso a chance to get a podium finish. He was in prime position to do so…until he spun exiting the second turn. He failed to finish.

It’s safe to say this is a year Alonso would rather forget.

However, we all got a glimpse of what may be to come from him and Renault next year (if they indeed hit KERS right).

The car performed perfectly (except for a mechanical problem in qualifying), the driver drove perfectly, and the team pitted the car perfectly. Everything that could have gone right…did. It was a dream weekend for Alonso and Renault.

Despite his win and upturn in performance, he still hasn’t decided though where he will drive in 2009. Alonso, a word of advice: it’s apparent to everyone that you want to be the team’s top driver.

Chances are very good that you won’t be at BMW…and a move to Honda might be just plain stupid (given that team’s inability to do anything right in the past two seasons).

Stay at Renault, Alonso. That team is on its way back up. Plus, you could have a small “Michael Schumacher”-type of moniker if you stay on and help get that team back at the front permanently (like what Schumi did for Ferrari).

The 2007 spygate saga has all but labeled Alonso as damaged goods; no team seems to want a driver who could, potentially, go rogue if they don’t fully back him as their No. 1 driver.

Ferrari has already said they want no part of Alonso, even though rumors persisted that they’d sign him to replace Kimi Raikkonen.

BMW Sauber seems happy with their pair of drivers, though Nick Heidfeld may not be there after 2009. Even still, the team has a rising start in Robert Kubica, meaning Alonso wouldn’t get No. 1 treatment if he went there.

We all know that McLaren is totally out of the picture, and I can’t see Alonso taking a seat
“down” the grid. And if he does, his win on Sunday may be his last.

Renault likes you and wants to keep you Alonso. You were the driver who brought that team its first championship since 1995 (back when they were Benneton). You’ve got a good nest egg there. Don’t try leaving again.

Stay put, and you just may be in the hunt for a title next year. The aero rules and introduction of KERS will surely shake up in the grid next year. If you want a possible preview of what could happen, look to 1998, the last time big changes hit F1.

The prior season in 1997 saw Williams and Ferrari dominate. However, the next season, neither team held its form and McLaren were the dominant team.

Why? Likely because they were focused on building a car for “the narrow track” rules of ’98, while Williams and Ferrari were focusing on the ’97 championship(s).

This year, McLaren and Ferrari are the dominant teams. Like with Williams and Ferrari in ‘97, that may not suit them well next year, and could open the door for BMW Sauber, Renault, Red Bull, etc. to have some glory.

Alonso: stay at Renault! Another title could be in your reach.