Coulthard: Alonso could take year off

Tue, 4 December 2007, 06:01

Red Bull Racing’s David Coulthard has said double world champion Fernando Alonso could take a year out from Formula One, and still return as a title contender.

Since leaving McLaren after just one year of his three-year contract, the Spaniard has been linked with a drive at Renault, Honda and Red Bull.

But 36-year-old Coulthard believes Alonso could easily take a season-long sabbatical and wait for a championship contending car in 2009.

“I don’t think it would be a problem for him to take a year out,” said Coulthard, speaking at a presentation event at London’s Wembley Stadium, for the December 16 “Race of Champions”.

“(Alain) Prost was the last guy to do that, he took a year out (in 1992) and came back and won the world championship.

“If you can get yourself into one of the best two cars, then of course you’ve got a great chance of winning the championship.

“Even when you have one of the best cars, there are so many things that need to go your way, and you need to make good decisions all the way through.

“He doesn’t have the option of McLaren or Ferrari, and based on last season’s performances, they were one of the two winning teams.

Alonso left McLaren in October following a controversial season with the Woking-based team and now faces a season of fighting in the mid-field.

Speculation suggests Alonso is looking for a one-year contract, leaving him free to sign for Ferrari in 2009. However, interested teams want at least a two-year deal.

Asked about his own seat, Coulthard rejected claims of Alonso replacing him.

“As I have been around the block a few times, my contract specifically states that if there is a world championship then they (Red Bull) have to enter me into it.

“And why would Fernando leave McLaren to come to Red Bull at this moment in time? If he didn’t enjoy not winning a lot at McLaren, then he is not going to enjoy not winning at Red Bull.”

David Coulthard was speaking at Wembley Stadium where an asphalt surface has replaced the traditional turf for the 20th Race of Champions event.

The end-of-season showdown pits champions from several motorsports against each other using identical cars on an identical track.

Formula One drivers Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Sebastian Bourdais and Heikki Kovalainen and seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher will join David Coulthard at the star-studded event.

Reigning World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx, Seven-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen and double World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm are also amongst the 16-man field.

The drivers will compete in a series of knockout heats to determine who is the “The Champion of Champions.”

Daily F1 News will be reporting live from the event on December 16 so look out for reports and interviews.

Lawrence Barretto.

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