Fernando Alonso insists that he intends to make the most of the FIA Court of Appeal's decision to allow Renault to compete in this weekend's European Grand Prix by returning the team to the podium.
The double world champion has struggled for points in 2009, but took positive signs from the last race before the enforced summer break, in Hungary, that he believes could see the R29 begin to challenge for the podium over the remainder of the season. Albeit lightly fuelled, Alonso claimed pole for the regie
in Budapest, but lost a wheel after his early first pit-stop, sidelining the entry and landing the team in hot water with the governing body.
"Our performance in Hungary was encouraging as the car was quick and we managed to get pole, which was actually a bit of a surprise," Alonso admitted, no doubt referring, tongue-in-cheek, to the loss of the Hungaroring timing screens as much as Renault's performance.
"To retire from the race was disappointing, but I'm looking on the bright side because I think that the car can be just as competitive in Valencia. Last year, my race there was very short – less than a lap – so I'm really determined to make up for that this weekend and, hopefully, we can fight for the podium."
Having brought his homeland a second F1 round - and attracted the majority of fans to the specially-created harbourside circuit - Alonso's contribution on raceday was indeed brief, as he was punted into retirement by Kazuki Nakajima at turn four while attempting to avoid another incident ahead. As a result, the sense of anticipation after Tuesday's FIA reprieve is heightened.
"Racing at home is always special, and Valencia is a beautiful city and a great place to have a race," Alonso noted, "I've always enjoyed racing on street circuits as they have a special atmosphere and the whole city gets involved in the race. Also, as it's a home race for me I know that there will be amazing support from the fans and I really want to reward them with a good result. As I've said, I would love to fight for the podium, but the main priority is to score points this weekend.
"I think the break was good for everyone and the team has come back refreshed and ready to push hard for the final part of the season. I also have a new team-mate this weekend and I'm looking forward to working with Romain [Grosjean], who I'm sure will do a good job for the team. I already have a good relationship with him and hopefully he can help us score some important points for the championship."
Despite the natural upheaval that slotting an F1 rookie into the line-up, with Grosjean replacing the lacklustre Nelson Piquet Jr for the remainder of the season, engineering director Pat Symonds shares Alonso's optimism about a competitive showing in Valencia - and beyond.
"The R29 has shown recently that it's a good car in all types of corner, so I'm confident that we can be competitive," he insisted, "Like any street course, it rewards brave and capable drivers and we've certainly got that in Fernando, who will have home advantage and massive support from the fans this weekend.