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  Saturday, 20 July, 2002, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Alonso takes Button's drive
Fernando Alonso is managed by Renault F1 boss Flavio Briatore
Alonso has impressed Renault in testing this year
Jenson Button will lose his drive at the Renault team at the end of this season and be replaced by Spanish rising star Fernando Alonso, the team finally admitted on Saturday.

Alonso's promotion from test driver was exclusively predicted by BBC Sport Online and Radio Five Live last month and was confirmed by Renault at the French Grand Prix.

Englishman Button is well advanced in negotiations with other teams for next year, with British American Racing ahead of Sauber as favourites to sign him.


Alonso's performance this year as our test driver has been so promising that his potential needs to be exploited straight away
Patrick Faure
Renault F1 chairman

He has also been connected with Toyota and Jaguar.

Renault said that their decision could partially be explained by the fact that Button is contracted to Williams until the end of 2004.

"The choice between Jenson and Fernando has been a very difficult one," said Renault F1 president Patrick Faure.

"Jenson has done a great job this year, scoring points regularly while showing commitment and team spirit.

"However, Renault's long-term strategy is based on investing in drivers who can guarantee stability and continuity to the team as they grow in competitiveness.

"While Jenson is contracted to another team, Fernando is part of the Renault Driver Development programme.

Renault boss Flavio Briatore
Briatore will now manage both drivers at Renault

"We feel that his performance this year as our test driver has been so promising that his great potential needs to be exploited straight away."

Button has this year buried memories of a disastrous 2001 season by scoring 10 of Renault's 14 points to help them into fourth place in the constructors' standings.

However, he has been outqualified by team-mate Jarno Trulli eight times in 11 races, which does not look good considering the Italian is new to the team.

Renault believe that Alonso, who raced for Minardi in 2001, is the brighter long-term prospect.

He has impressed greatly in testing this year for Renault - and on a one-off test for Jaguar.

But the Spaniard's chances of a race drive have also been helped by the fact that he, like Trulli, is managed by Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore.

Williams have decided to take up their option on Juan Pablo Montoya for the next two years at least.

Colombian Montoya has quickly established himself as the man most likely to challenge Michael Schumacher - he has been on pole position for the last four races.

His team-mate, Ralf Schumacher, is contracted to Williams until the end of 2004.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Jonathan Legard
"Button's been sent on his way"
In-depth guide to the 2002 Formula One season

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F1 2002
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