Friday, June 20, 2008
Not a Frenchman but a Spaniard in Fernando Alonso driving for the French owned outfit Renault F1 Sport. The double world champion's performance today in the second free practice was above and beyond the call of duty. Some might argue that not at all the track had hit a sweet spot and Fernando just hooked it up. Another counter argument would be that the track temperature had risen and is the case at Magny-Cours unlike most tracks times tumbled. From whichever side you decide to start eating the pie from you will get to the middle that is Fernando is a great driver - his drive today demonstrates just that. It spells out the loss that McLaren suffer when they let him go, it gives some value to Fernando's claim that as a driver he brought 6 tenth of a second to the McLaren camp. Looking at his campaign so far in the championship, it is clear Fernando is out of the running why, because he just does not have a championship winning car. In Fernando's case that cliché a bad workman blames his tool is a complete misnomer. Renault will not win at Magny-Cours this weekend. This performance in front of the Renault chiefs will sell the F1's team as a worthwhile investment to them and if not keep the sponsors happy, French people have a headline they can believe could be true. So what's in it for Fernando, well there is the £25m question of a drive next year. There are massive rule changes that the FIA are pushing through to do with aerodynamics and KERS (kinetic energy recovery systems) and these are worth a driver worrying about when considering the next step. The easiest and most logical step is to stay at Renault, fight with a team that won you two championships; like a phoenix rising from the ashes. No one including Fernando believed that Renault had the momentum to credibly chase the triple crown hence the defection to McLaren but he knew he had it in him 'Mr. I bring 6 tenths'. Today he was in his element and set up the weekend to be a thriller until the race when the Renault's lack of pace will kill any potential for a headline grabbing podium position. It's all in the package.