Murray Walker has revealed who he believes to have been the most impressive drivers in Formula 1 in 2008 - and has picked out former double world champion Fernando Alonso as 'the best of the lot'.

The much-loved veteran broadcaster - who will return to the BBC in 2009 to answer fans' questions with a Q&A slot on the corporation's Sport website [see separate story - click here] - named, in no particular order, Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen, Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel as his top six performers of the year, rounding out his top ten with Mark Webber, Rubens Barrichello, Nick Heidfeld and Timo Glock.

Though Alonso may have triumphed just twice - in Singapore and Japan - en route to fifth spot in the final drivers' standings, his worst placing since 2003, both victories were consummate signs that the man from Oviedo is still very much the complete article in the top flight.

What's more, should Renault's late-season resurgence continue into 2009, the Spaniard is very much set to be a title challenger again when the new campaign gets into gear Down Under in Melbourne in March.

"I think Alonso is the best driver of the lot," Walker told Crash.net Radio, "and that includes Hamilton and it includes Kubica and Raikkonen and Massa. When I say the best driver, I mean the best package in terms of actual driving ability and tactical acumen and everything else that's needed to be a top Formula 1 driver.

"Undoubtedly he could [challenge for the championship again in 2009], but like Lewis Hamilton with McLaren, and like Raikkonen and Massa with Ferrari and Kubica with BMW, whether Alonso succeeds next year or not will depend on how good his Renault is. We don't know the answer to that, and we won't until at least a quarter of the way through the 2009 season, but in short, yes [he can win again]."

by Russell Atkins

TO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE

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