Honda has redoubled its efforts to secure the services of Fernando Alonso for 2009, claiming that the double Formula 1 World Champion is the only 'totally complete' driver currently competing in the top flight, and stressing: 'If Alonso is with us, we can have a winning team.'
Though Ross Brawn has previously hinted that Honda is not yet ready to accommodate a driver of Alonso's calibre, it now seems that the team has changed tack – and is ready to pull out all the stops to attract the disenchanted Renault star away from Enstone and across to Brackley next year.
“Hopefully Fernando will decide to come to us,” the big-budget Japanese outfit's CEO Nick Fry is quoted as having said by Spanish newspaper El Pais
. “We have developed a very advanced KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery) system and we are working very hard on the car for next year. We have four wind tunnels – one of them in Japan – working on the project, which is well under way.
“If Alonso is with us, we can have a winning team.”
“We'd love to have him,” concurred team principal Brawn, “because he is the best. Of all the drivers right now, he is the only one that I see as totally complete, as Michael [Schumacher] was.”
The former Ferrari tactical genius did underline, however, that Honda would demand a minimum commitment of two years from Alonso, something the 27-year-old is perhaps unlikely to be willing to agree to – with paddock whispers continuing to insist that the man from Oviedo is Maranello-bound in 2010, if not before.
“It would have to be at least for two years,” Brawn added, “because that is the time we would need, with Fernando's help, to become a winning team and then convince him to be with us even longer – but when someone gets married, they always think it is for life.”
As to the future of Honda's current line-up of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello – experienced grand prix winners both – Brawn offered no guarantees, save for acknowledging that Alonso is the only driver who would be capable of ousting either the Briton or his Brazilian team-mate, the latter being the man who many believe to be most under threat.
“We are happy with the performance of our drivers,” he stated. “At this time, I don't know which one of them would move for Fernando, because Rubens is doing well at the moment.”