Doors closing on indecisive Alonso
9 November 2007, Madrid - Alone at the top. This is where Formula 1 double world champion Fernando Alonso seems to be making precious little efforts to avoid being, as the driver, recently freed from his contract at McLaren, has been taking his sweet time in committing to an outfit for next season.
9 November 2007
Madrid - Alone at the top. This is where Formula 1 double world champion Fernando Alonso seems to be making precious little efforts to avoid being, as the driver, recently freed from his contract at McLaren, has been taking his sweet time in committing to an outfit for next season.
On Thursday Williams and Toyota closed their doors as possible new homes for the Asturian, as Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima were announced as drivers for the former, Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock for the latter.
The only two remaining options available for Alonso would be at teams Red Bull and Renault, although Red Bull looks improbable as the team will probably re-sign David Coulthard and Mark Webber.
And at Renault, where Alonso won world titles in 2005 and 2006, patience may be wearing a bit thin.
The Tuesday deadline set by Renault manager Flavio Briatore for signing a contract for 2008 came and went without a peep from the Alonso camp.
The waiting stretched into a third day Thursday, although Renault cannot afford to let Alonso drag his feet much longer.
"If I haven't announced anything it's because nothing has been closed," said Carlos Ghosn Renault president, not without a touch of irritation.
And now it would appear that Renault may have more on its mind than just solidifying its ranks for next season. Yesterday the FIA announced that it will summon Renault to a spying hearing in early December for information discovered in McLaren's own spying trial in September.
In the September hearing, McLaren lawyers and team boss Ron Dennis revealed to FIA authorities that a former staff member had allegedly taken several CDs worth of data to the Renault team, which affected the period between September 2006 and October 2007 - a timeframe which includes the final four races of 2006 when Renault won the drivers' and constructors' titles as well as this year's entire season, during which they didn't win a race.
The information on the CDs supposedly dealt with the layout and critical dimensions of the McLaren car, together with details of the McLaren fuelling system, gear assembly, oil cooling system, hydraulic control system and a novel suspension component used by the 2006 and 2007 McLaren F1 cars.
The charges prompted an investigation by the sport's governing body, which found enough evidence to summon Renault representatives to Monaco on December 6 to decide whether "unauthorized possession" of confidential documents took place.
Although Briatore told a news conference at the Belgian Grand Prix in September that the case was raised by McLaren "to create confusion" while it was being probed, the tactic seems to have worked with Renault as next racing team to take the hot seat.
Despite the new developments, Briatore still seemed unaffected. "We told the FIA what we had, so there's no problem," he said. "I don't know what [Ron] Dennis is referring to; he's throwing stones a bit everywhere. We are calm, no problem at all."
Regardless of hearings, racing teams that need logistics to be settled and sponsorship dollars to start rolling in cannot wait forever to sign contracts, even if it is for the best driver Spain has ever produced.
And as the plot thickens for Alonso, many wonder if the controversial driver will return from one team docked all of its constructor's points in a spying scandal to his former that risks the same fate? Or will he do what many have been quietly whispering about behind the scenes - take a year off?
[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL./ KELLY RAMUNDO 2007]
Subject: Spanish news