Double Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso has insisted that whilst his motivation remains very much intact in the wake of a dispiriting start to the 2009 campaign, he is becoming increasingly 'tired of being left behind' – as speculation heightens that a move to Ferrari in 2010 is now all-but a formality.
The 21-time grand prix-winner sits only seventh in the drivers' standings a third of the way into the season, with but eleven points to his name and a best finish of fifth – in both the Melbourne curtain-raiser and in front of his adoring home supporters in Barcelona just over a fortnight ago.
That is the product of a car in Renault's R29 that, whilst arguably the most consistent of any of the 'grandee' teams' challengers – having not suffered the peaks and troughs of the Ferrari F60, McLaren-Mercedes MP4-24 or BMW-Sauber F1.09 – does not seem to be making any great progress either. A fuel-aided front row grid slot in Bahrain aside, on every other occasion this year to-date Alonso has qualified between seventh and tenth.
In Monaco at the weekend – the so-called 'jewel in F1's crown', and a race in which the Spaniard has twice previously triumphed – the Oviedo native could manage no better than seventh position at the chequered flag, having started ninth. Admitting to having extracted every inch of performance possible out of his car, he has conceded that life in the midfield is beginning to get him down – and perhaps tellingly revealed that he is 'excited' about the results of a poll in a leading Italian newspaper in which Ferrari faithful the tifosi
named him as the driver they most want to occupy one of the scarlet machines next season.
“It was a hard race and very tight from the beginning,” Alonso remarked of his Monte Carlo efforts, “but the car felt good and kept improving during the race. We had a good strategy, but in Monaco the starting position is essential and so starting ninth and gaining two places and two points was a satisfying result.”
“We have a lot of new things for the upcoming races and we are going to introduce new pieces in Turkey,” he added, speaking to Spanish media, “but I think everything will stay more-or-less the same. It happened in Barcelona – everyone promised the world and everything stayed the same. My motivation and the motivation of the team remain very high and we are confident that the second part of the season should be better for us, but I'm tired of being left behind.”
Team-mate Nelsinho Piquet was certainly out of luck in the glamorous Principality, being quite literally shunted out of contention by Scuderia Toro Rosso rookie Sébastien Buemi just eleven laps in, causing the Brazilian sophomore – still only 23 himself – to somewhat ironically bemoan the inexperience of 'young drivers' in the top flight.
“I'm really disappointed to have been taken out of the race,” rued the son of former triple title-winner Nelson Piquet. “I made a decent start and I was in good shape, because I was running a long first stint and all the cars ahead of me were very close. Then I got hit from behind on the straight by Buemi, which damaged the rear of my car and forced me to retire. It's really frustrating, as I think I could have maybe scored some points.”
Those sentiments were corroborated by the Enstone-based outfit's managing director Flavio Briatore, who has promised both of his drivers a considerably improved package for the upcoming Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul on 7 June – and a race-winning car come season's end.