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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 January 2008, 14:38 GMT
Renault expect to challenge again
Renault's Fernando Alonso
Renault's Fernando Alonso tests out the new car
Renault have vowed that 2008 will see them back where they feel they belong - at the front of the F1 grid.

The team suffered a dismal season last year but are in buoyant mood ahead of the opening Grand Prix in March.

And with the return of former world champion Fernando Alonso they are confident of mounting a challenge.

"We expect to see the team back in its normal place, fighting at the front of the field," said Renault team president Bernard Ray.

"This is the target the team has set for the new car.

606: DEBATE

"On the technical side, everybody has worked hard to overcome the problems encountered last year.

"On the driver front, Fernando Alonso's return was an important boost. There is optimism inside the team and within Renault."

Renault's hopes for the 2008 season rest on the all-new F1 R28.

The car ran for the first time last week in Valencia and early indications are that it is a lot more reliable than last year's model.

The entire team is absolutely determined to get back to the top

Fernando Alonso

Renault's race drivers for 2008 will be double world champion Alonso, who returns to the team, and rookie Nelson Piquet Jr.

Alonso scored 15 of his 19 career wins with Renault, and is the only man to have finished in the world championship top three over the past three seasons.

"The entire team is absolutely determined to get back to the top, they are pushing very hard and that is a big motivation for me," said the 26-year-old Spaniard.

"My first feeling with the car was good and the team is working incredibly hard. It looks encouraging at the moment."

Technical director Bob Bell added: "The car is much less evolutionary than its predecessor.

"2007 was a very poor year by our standards. For 2008, there are high expectations inside and outside the team, and it is down to us to give the drivers a competitive car.

"We have put the problems from 2007 behind us and in terms of the car design, we have looked at the problem afresh."

The 2008 F1 season begins in Melbourne on 15 March.

SEE ALSO
Alonso puts new Renault to test
21 Jan 08 |  Formula One
Alonso makes happy Renault return
15 Jan 08 |  Formula One
Alonso opts for return to Renault
10 Dec 07 |  Formula One


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