The question of Fernando Alonso’s future was finally resolved when Renault confirmed that the Spaniard will be staying with the team for the next two years.
After opportunities with Ferrari and BMW disappeared Alonso’s only real alternative was an open invitation to move to Honda, where Ross Brawn was keen to get him on board. Alonso had long insisted that he knew what he was going to be doing in 2009, but the news did not come until three days after the final race of ’08 in Brazil.
Alonso had an astonishing end to the season, winning in Singapore and Japan and jumping up to fifth place in the World Championship. He scored more points than any other driver in the last third of the season.
Renault also confirmed that Nelson Piquet will be retained for another season, despite lobbying within the camp on behalf of test drivers Lucas di Grassi and Romain Grosjean. Piquet was given a late boost by points finishes in Japan and China.
Rubens Barrichello is keen to retain his Honda seat alongside Jenson Button, but his chances appear slim. At the Barcelona test in mid-November Honda gave GP2 star Bruno Senna his first F1 outing, and also tried di Grassi. Honda will have substantial Brazilian sponsorship from Petrobras in 2009, but that is said not to be a factor in driver choice.
Barrichello’s one remaining option is Toro Rosso, where Sébastien Bourdais, Takuma Sato and test driver Sébastien Buemi are all still in the frame for a seat.