Fernando Alonso has again suggested that he may be prepared to keep faith with Renault and stay with the team next season, but hinted that the Enstone outfit must demonstrate that it has overcome the problems that have hits its chances this year.

The Spaniard has been linked to several other teams ever since it became apparent that his return to Renault for 2008 would not allow him to repeat the championship glories the two parties enjoyed in 2005-06, but he insists that he has made no plans for 2009 and would be happy to remain at Enstone until the end of his current deal.

While Red Bull and Ferrari have both closed doors on Alonso in recent weeks, the 'silly season' rumour mill continues to suggest that he will be with either a Ross Brawn-inspired Honda or the much-improved BMW Sauber if he activates a 'get-out' clause for next season.

Speaking at a ceremony that saw him awarded an honorary diploma at Madrid University, Alonso said that Renault was aware of the deficiencies that were keeping it lagging behind the likes of McLaren, Ferrari and BMW, and were all they could to redress them in the design of next year's car, which the team has already revealed will be a 'clean sheet' machine.

"It is difficult enough to know what is needed [to be successful] because, if it wasn't, everyone would be doing it, not just us," he explained, "To be champion, you need a series of important factors, above all an adequate car, a motivated team and a good dose of luck.

"I believe that are basically three things wrong with this year's Renault, starting with the adaptation to the Bridgestone tyres, which Renault has not managed to hit upon in the last two years since the switch from Michelin. Before that, things had gone very well for us, be we have not been able to hit upon the problem when F1 moved exclusively to Bridgestone.

"On top of that, we know that the engine lacks a little bit in comparison with our rivals, missing some horsepower that costs us some tenths, and then there is the aerodynamics, which we know can give us more by being more efficient.

"All of these have been addressed in great measure during the championship and, having started the year in positions eleven and twelve - and a second away from BMW - we have been closer to them in the last two races, so we have evolved a long way. That is good as we look toward next year, when I hope that everything will be in place so that we can fight for the world title."

Alonso dismissed suggestions that, while Renault may have closed the gap on BMW Sauber, both had fallen behind Italian GP winner Scuderia Toro Rosso, claiming that the Italian minnow was benefiting from its relationship with Ferrari as the championship came down to the closing stretch.

"It depends on the weekend," he ventured, "There are times when Toro Rosso goes a little bit better than us, and others where it goes a little worse. Of course, it has improved a lot in the last three or four races, but they have the Ferrari engines that have led the championship all season and, apparently, have been using a development version in the last four rounds, which has catapulted it to the front positions, and possibly as the third-best team right now, behind Ferrari and McLaren."

His comments suggest that the Asturian has at least half a mind to remain with Renault in 2009, but he insists that he has not been swayed by recent comments attributed to team boss Flavio Briatore, which suggested that the regie would benefit from greater financial input next season.

"There are moments in the season in which Flavio makes certain statements to confuse people a little," he smiled, "And perhaps to confuse me also. I'm not taking these comments either seriously or as a joke.

"I believe that Renault is making every effort all year, but it is a business and a team that does not want to squander money as other teams do. We had a smaller budget [when we won the two championships], but it is one thing to have less budget and another to throw the money around as perhaps others do.

"But, even if Renault does inject more money into its F1 team, that alone does not mean it will improve - and it is not going to influence my decision on the future."


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