Renault has admitted that three-quarters of the effort that went into winning Sunday night's inaugural Singapore Grand Prix came from its driver, which might explain why Ferrari fans have re-opened the debate about its line-up for next season.

Such was the unexpected nature of Fernando Alonso's victory in F1's first night race that Renault had to hunt for the means to toast the Spaniard, but engine guru Denis Chevrier insisted that the team had never doubted that its double world champion would return to the top of the podium if the opportunity presented itself.

The opening came when, ironically, rookie team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr did little to help his own cause by crashing out of the race on lap 14, bringing out the safety car. Alonso, pursuing a radical strategy after being sidelined in second qualifying, had already made his first stop for fuel and tyres and was thus well-placed to move towards the head of the field when the majority of the pack made similar stops.

Promoted further by penalties and the disappearance of two further cars running to just one stop, the Spaniard did not put a foot wrong over the remaining distance, receiving a solid second stop from the regie and defying a second safety car to take a famous victory.

"It has been 31 races, since Japan 2006, that we have not heard the French anthem," Chevrier commented amid the celebrations, "We worked to make sure the problems were not repeated and, in the end, we had our fingers crossed that nothing went wrong.

"But 75 per cent of this victory is due to the driver, to Fernando, who drove like a man possessed, without mistakes. It was fantastic. I only hope that he will stay with Renault because there are few like him on the market, and he will be the key for us next year."

Alonso's future, and the impact of winning a race with Renault this season, dominated a lot of thoughts in the wake of the race, with the Spaniard himself remaining coy on the subject.

"This victory is thanks to the massive effort [the team] are making with this year's car and next year's car, but it's not changing the decision for next year," he insisted, "As I've always said, though, Renault will be my first priority because I feel I'm at home in this team."

Team boss Flavio Briatore also admitted that he did not expect the Singapore success to play a major part in Alonso's decision of where to race next season, with the Spaniard being linked to both BMW Sauber and Honda since Ferrari and Red Bull ruled him out of their line-ups.

"I don't know if this is going to change Fernando's decision or not," Briatore noted before adding, mischievously, that, "He knows what we have done, that we are two seconds better off than we were at the beginning off the season - and that we are in front of BMW...."

Ferrari's decision to confirm current world champion Kimi Raikkonen alongside 2008 title contender Felipe Massa, not only for next season, but through to the end of 2010 effectively put an end to Alonso joining the team in the near future - as had been widely expected - but has not gone down well with the tifosi, which continues to believe that Luca di Montezemolo and co might have missed a trick.

The Spanish media, in particular, has taken great delight in repeating forum posts from disgruntled Ferrari fans, the majority of whom wish to see Alonso paired with anyone if it means he arrives at Maranello.

"I ask that president Montezemolo intervenes in decisions on drivers in future," one noted pleaded, "He cannot permit the destruction of the image of Ferrari, which is so important for all Italians and many people around the world."

While the Scuderia had high hopes that Raikkonen's arrival at the start of 2007 would kick off a dynasty akin to that established by Michael Schumacher, the Finn has failed to maintain the success he enjoyed in his debut season, leaving Massa to tackle McLaren's Lewis Hamilton alone.

"The best decision would be to replace Raikkonen with Fernando," more than one suggestion claimed, "The Spaniard has spoken too much in the past, but has shown repentance and, with him, we would have a driver who is truly, currently, the best."

"If the best drivers in the world are Raikkonen and Massa, then why is it thanks to them that Hamilton is on the verge of winning the title?" asked more, "With Alonso, we would be again be leading. Only he can stop the McLaren."


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment