Kovalainen key to Alonso’s Renault return?

Thu, 4 October 2007, 01:08

Heikki Kovalainen has emerged as a potentially central figure in the short term future of reigning world champion Fernando Alonso.

The Finnish rookie’s Renault team boss Flavio Briatore revealed this week that he has made a solid offer to reunite the French outfit with Alonso, its recent back to back title winner.

“I’ve said to Fernando that the moment he is free from McLaren, we would like to have him back,” the Italian told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

But while many believe that Giancarlo Fisichella would be the obvious choice to make room for the Spaniard next year, Renault has not yet confirmed either of its current drivers for the 2008 season.

It has sparked speculation, including in the German magazine Sport Bild, that Fisichella will actually stay put to once again be Alonso’s teammate — particularly as Briatore indicated that “the days are gone when you could have two strong drivers in the same team”.

Senior Renault engineer Alan Permane is the latest to gush over the recent quality of Kovalainen’s driving, saying in an interview that the 25-year-old is “going from strength to strength at the moment”.

Offering the increasingly impressive Kovalainen to McLaren, therefore, could be a key aspect in Briatore’s attempt to persuade Ron Dennis to release Alonso.

Perhaps higher on Dennis’ wish list to replace Alonso, however, is Nico Rosberg, who is under contract to Williams but, crucially, has not yet been formally confirmed by the Grove based team for next year.

The 22-year-old German told Sport Bild this week: “I do not have an influence on things that lie outside of my job as a racing driver.”

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