Fernando Alonso has suggested that Renault's dramatic drop-off in form since its title-winning charges of 2005 and 2006 has been in some part due to the squad's rivals' unfair approach to the so-called 'freeze' on engine development.

In arguing so, Alonso has echoed the thoughts of Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore, who previously claimed that whilst the Enstone-based concern had co-operated with the spirit of the new regulations, 'others took another course and are far ahead of us now'.

"Two years ago the R26 was a very good car, in the corners and on the straights," former double F1 World Champion Alonso told Spanish reporters this week. "Did the freeze harm us? Perhaps, yes. Renault has always had a good engine, and this year we realise that we are a little bit behind.

"It is always a difficult thing, going to the limits of the legalities. Maybe we have been more legal than the other teams and have lost 20 or 30 horsepower for that reason."

Renault's lack of power was particularly evident during the Bahrain Grand Prix back in April, when McLaren-Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton was caught out by the lack of acceleration of Alonso's R28 out of one of the circuit's slow corners and ran into the back of his former team-mate.

The Spaniard also revealed his concerns about the fact that Renault is one of the teams that is yet to run a version of the new KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) technology that will be introduced into the top flight next year.

"To spend so long without testing it is not a good sign," he stressed. "BMW is already using it at the test tracks, so I see them with an advantage at the moment."

Meanwhile, the recently-turned 27-year-old has moved to deny rumours that he has spent his time in-between the German and Hungarian Grands Prix house-hunting close to Maranello, as speculation linking him to a move to Ferrari in 2010 refuses to go away.

According to F1SA, Alonso was seen looking at properties in the Italian-speaking Lugano region of Switzerland, near to the Italian border and less than 300km from the Scuderia's headquarters. The man from Oviedo, however, has repeatedly refused to comment on his future until after the summer.

"It is true that I was in the Italian region of Switzerland," he acknowledged, "but I was on vacation and looking for a hotel, not a house.

"I do not know where I am going to be next year; whether I stay at Renault or I change teams, in the end I will do what is best for my career."

Briatore, for his part, insists that he is confident Alonso will remain at Renault next year, particularly in the wake of Red Bull Racing recently firming up its 2009 F1 driver line-up and both BMW-Sauber and Honda looking likely to retain their current pairings beyond the end of the present campaign.

"I think he'll stay," the flamboyant Italian is quoted as having said by international news agency Reuters. "He is racing really well, [though] he has missed out on many points. We have less than we deserve."


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