Fernando Alonso has sought to give the lie to those who suggest he will be on the move from Renault at the end of the 2009 Formula 1 season – if not before – by insisting that he has a 'long-term' contract with the French manufacturer.
There has been considerable speculation in recent months that the former double world champion – who clinched both of his drivers' crowns with Renault in 2005 and 2006 – is becoming increasingly disenchanted with the team's lack of competitiveness in 2008, after returning to the squad from a title-challenging position at McLaren-Mercedes last year.
Whereas this time twelve months ago Alonso had 68 points on the board, this time around he has a meagre 13 – with not so much as a single rostrum finish to his name – prompting paddock whispers that he is Ferrari-bound sooner or later. Not necessarily so, he suggests.
“I have a contract with Renault for the long-term,” the Spaniard affirmed, “but of course at the end of every season you need to look at what the possibilities are. It is not the time now in August to think, but for sure in September and October I will have a think and we will decide.
“The feeling is sometimes a little bit of frustration when you see you do a perfect race and you finish sixth or seventh and there is nothing more that you can do. [If] you do a perfect lap in qualifying, maybe you are fifth.
“This is not what I have been used to the last few three or four years when I have been on pole positions and on the podium, but it is part of the job and the sport is like that. You go up and down, and hopefully one day we will be on the podium [again].
“It is not that the same guy is winning the Tour de France or the World Cup or whatever. Every year it's a new challenge and some new difficulties. Now we are in a moment that is difficult. We need to recover a little bit of confidence and build a winning team again. We are in that phase, but I am not worried.
“There is still some developing in this car and some improvements in every race. It's true also that in Jerez for some of the test we were looking at next year's car. We were testing with slick tyres, so it was a good opportunity to test maybe new solutions for next year's car, but this year's car is still the main priority at the moment.”
The recently-turned 27-year-old has claimed that the current cost cutting-designed engine freeze regulations have penalised those teams like Renault who have perhaps stuck more stringently to the letter of the rules than have done others.