In the face of increasing competition from other teams on the grid, Renault is reported to be considering an all-or-nothing bid to keep Fernando Alonso on board in 2009.
The Spaniard, who is rumoured to have an escape clause built in to his current two-year deal with the regie
, had been linked to both Red Bull Racing and, perhaps more significantly, Ferrari before both confirmed alternative line-ups, but is still being courted by Honda and BMW Sauber with promises of better things in 2009.
Although he is refusing to comment on his destiny before the end of the season, Renault knows that Alonso will provide its best hope of a return to the front of the Formula One field, and is determined to give the Spaniard something enticing to ensure that he remains at Enstone at least until his deal ends.
Flavio Briatore met with the Spanish media during last weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Monza in an effort to spell out just what Renault was hoping to offer the national hero for 2009, and revealed that the French marque was committed to spending more in an attempt to improve on what has been a difficult couple of years since Alonso originally left for McLaren.
"I don't know what the future is going to bring, and will have to see how the season works out, but, if Fernando isn't with us next year, it won't be a treason," Briatore was quoted by marca.com
, "However, Renault should take a step forward with Fernando who, this year, has done great work. We are not a McLaren or Ferrari but, after them, our car is the fastest thanks to the fact that Fernando is again a leader. Everything that we do we do it for him, we are transparent with Fernando and will continue to be. He is the reason why the car has improved from the start of the year, and especially since the race in Barcelona, thanks to the motivation that he has given to everyone.
"Four months ago, [Renault group president] Carlos Ghosn gave his approval that we receive total technical support for the F1 programme, and gave it in a very difficult moment because, for all companies, it is a complicated moment with a loss of 40-50 per cent in the market. However, Renault did not hesitate for a minute in increasing the budget by 30 or 40 percent."
With the resources allocated, Briatore promised that Renault would produce a better car for its double world champion should he remain on board in 2009.
"Next year's car is completely new, starting from a blank sheet of paper and no longer bearing the inheritance of Michelin," he said, noting the adverse influence the necessary switch from Michelin to Bridgestone had had on Renault's performance.
"When there was change of regulation before, just as there will be in 2009, Benetton and Renault always produced a competitive machine. Besides, we have already opened a new CFD centre that will be the number one in Formula One. We will officially present it in November, but we have been using it for four months in the development of the R29.