Fernando Alonso has said that he does not intend to quit Formula One until he has added a third world title to his haul, and reckons that that aim will be within his reach as early as next season.
Buoyed by Renault's strong form towards the end of 2008 - the regie
allowed Alonso to score more points than anyone from the Belgian Grand Prix onwards - and what he has seen of the plans for next year's R29, Alonso told Spain's Cadena SER
radio station that he can challenge the likes of McLaren and Ferrari for top honours in 2009.
Having answered questions from students on a visit to the Universidad Alfonso X El Sabio, Alonso was quick-fire quizzed by the El Larguero
show on various topics emanating from a tumultuous 2008 campaign, but revealed that he wanted to win another title before stepping back from the top flight - and believed that that opportunity could come along with the raft of new regulations next season.
Confirming that he was due to have a seat fitting for the R29 this week, the Spaniard had admitted that waiting for each new car was like sitting an examination, as both made him nervous, but said that he was looking forward to getting his hands on the latest product from Enstone, which is due to hit the tracks on 20 January. From what he has seen, he revealed, Renault had every chance of returning to the glory days of his two titles in 2005-06, provided that the team managed to get on top of the revised aerodynamics, slick tyres and KERS systems required by the new rulebook.
Although there is still much to be done with the R29, Alonso confirmed that the team had been encouraged by the figures produced by the windtunnel model which, if combined with the team's renowned reliability and the revised potential of the engine - which remains under 'freeze' conditions other than to have its performance 'levelled' with others in the field - has sown similar seeds of optimism as the championship-winning R25.
Should he not win the cherished third title with Renault, Alonso was asked the obvious question about transferring his allegiance to Ferrari in future seasons - rumours which took on greater credence following the revelation that Spanish banking giant Santander was to make the move to Maranello in 2010 - but refused to be drawn on the subject, admitting that it 'would be wrong to answer without believing it to be true'.