Thu, Nov 22, 2007 - Page 19 News List

F1: Tense tug-of-war between Renault, Alonso continues

DPA , MADRID

Tense talks between Spanish driver Fernando Alonso and Renault continued on Tuesday, with Formula 1 fans awaiting a decision on the future of the double world champion.

Following his controversial exit from McLaren-Mercedes, Alonso has been linked to several teams. Now Renault seems ahead in the race to hire the Spaniard for the 2008 season, but patience has a limit.

The French constructor wants Alonso to sign a three-year contract, but the driver only wants to commit to one.

"Renault gets tough and offers Alonso three years, or nothing," the Spanish sports daily Marca said on Tuesday in its online edition.

Apparently, Renault officials believe that the Spaniard is only looking for a team to bridge the gap until he joins Ferrari in 2009.

The French team -- with which Alonso won two world championships before joining McLaren last year -- wants to make the decision shortly, "within a few hours." However, sources close to Alonso have warned that negotiations could still take 10 days.

However, Renault knows Alonso's chances are more and more limited, and is trying to rush him, Marca noted.

"Let's stay calm, because we are not going to be without a car," the daily El Mundo quoted sources close to Alonso as saying.

"The fact is that Alonso still has no contract and he is very interesting for any team," Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost recently told an Austrian daily.

Tost admitted that Red Bull had held talks with Alonso, although he denied that the Scot David Coulthard was about to be transferred to Toro Rosso to make room for the Spaniard in the Austrian team.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner denied talks had taken place, but some Spanish media even cited figures.

The daily El Pais said "the Red Bull option would be more lucrative [than that of Renault], some 30 million [euros, US$44 million]."

The Toyota team confirmed on Monday that the German Timo Glock will be its second pilot next season, alongside the Italian Jarno Trulli, thus closing another door for Alonso.

Renault is keeping its doors open, but does not seem willing to serve as a stop-gap option for the Spaniard.

Teams with shorter pedigrees, like Red Bull or Honda, may be more willing to accept Alonso's conditions.

In the meantime, several other drivers are following the talks closely, because their future could well depend on the result.

Toro Rosso said it is only sure that it has contracts with Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais.

The Italian Giancarlo Fisichella and the Finn Heikki Kovalainen are already looking for a team, after Renault boss Flavio Briatore spoke his mind.

"Renault will definitely have different drivers next year," Briatore said.

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