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Page last updated at 21:40 GMT, Monday, 19 January 2009

Alonso upbeat over Renault hopes

Fernando Alonso, Flavio Briatore and Nelson Piquet unveil Renault's 2009 F1 car
Renault's drivers and team principal Flavio Briatore (centre) unveiled the R29

Fernando Alonso says a good start for Renault to the new Formula One season will put speculation about him one day switching to Ferrari on the backburner.

The Spaniard was speaking at the launch of Renault's R29 car in which he will battle for a third drivers' title.

"Hopefully this year I can be more relaxed about this question," he said when asked again about joining Ferrari.

"If we are winning races and fighting for the championship then maybe we forget Ferrari."

606: DEBATE
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The latest rumour emerged earlier this month, with claims he had agreed to join Ferrari in 2011 once Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen's deals have expired.

Alonso refused to be drawn and said: "When we talk about 2010, 2011 or 2012, it is a difficult question to answer because I'm not looking that far [ahead].

"Right now, I only have one target - winning the championship. I am more motivated than ever, more prepared than ever, physically and mentally.

"If we don't win it, then it will be a disappointing season.

"In race two or race three, if we are nowhere, then maybe we have to change our target."

Alonso, 27, committed to Renault until the end of the 2010 season in December.

Fernando Alonso
Alonso finished the 2008 season in fine form

He finished 2008 with two wins in the last four races, to renew belief in the team's ability to challenge for the title.

Alonso, a two-time world champion with Renault, finished fifth in the drivers' standings, while the French team were fourth in the constructors' championship.

Renault are hoping the R29 will allow Alonso and team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr to mount a serious challenge to front-runners McLaren and Ferrari.

Team boss Flavio Briatore said: "We began our preparations for the R29 project early and I am proud of what the team has achieved.

"There are lots of new things to deal with this year, which could shake things up, but we intend to continue fighting at the front."

The R29 incorporates the wide nose and narrow rear wing seen in other 2009 cars, and carries over last season's shark-fin engine cover.

The most visible change is the team's striking new yellow livery, replacing 2008's blue and orange design.

2009 CAR LAUNCH DATES
13 Jan: Ferrari
15 Jan: Toyota
16 Jan: McLaren
19 Jan: Renault & Williams
20 Jan: BMW Sauber
9 Feb: Red Bull
TBC: Toro Rosso, Force India, former Honda team

The car made its debut at Portugal's Portimao circuit, but Alonso will not test it until later in the week.

The new-look wings seen in 2009's F1 cars, which several drivers have admitted do not look as sleek and appealing as their predecessors, are a result of new 2009 regulations governing aerodynamic modifications.

Slick, untreaded tyres will also be reintroduced after 11 years on grooved tyres and teams have the option of employing a kinetic energy recovery system.

In keeping with other teams, Renault are expected to introduce further developments to the R29 in the weeks between Monday's official launch and the first race weekend in Australia, at the end of March.

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see also
Focused Alonso sets sights on title
20 Jan 09 |  Formula One
Renault and Williams unveil cars
19 Jan 09 |  Formula One
Hamilton eyeing second title bid
16 Jan 09 |  Formula One
Toyota commit to F1 with new car
15 Jan 09 |  Formula One
Massa gives new Ferrari first run
12 Jan 09 |  Formula One


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