Renault F1 boss Flavio Briatore has said that we wants to give his drivers a few more weeks to state their case before defining his line-up for the 2008 season.

The reigning world champions have endured a difficult season with the R27, yet to reach the podium and struggling to catch BMW Sauber for third place in the constructors' championship despite the obvious talents of Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen.

With calls - mostly from the Brazilian's father - for test and reserve driver Nelson Piquet Jr to be pushed into a race seat, Briatore is not short of options for next year, but he admits that his current pairing has not had a fair chance to show what they are capable of, hence his decision to wait until next month, at the earliest, before making plans for 2008.

"I will take another couple of weeks," the Italian confirmed to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, "First, I want to give my drivers a better car. That way, I can better judge their achievements."

After a shaky start to his F1 race career, Kovalainen has been the stronger of the current duo in recent races, and was on course for fifth place in the European GP before the team took a gamble on late-race rain that dropped him to eighth at the flag. Fisichella, meanwhile, has been lacklustre since Canada, but brings vital experience to the team that would not necessarily be available from a Kovalainen-Piquet Jr pairing.

The Italian, however, has been linked to both retirement - along with fellow countryman Jarno Trulli - and a move elsewhere, with Williams and, more notably, the beleaguered Scuderia Toro Rosso in the frame, with STR clearly coveting his experience to help it move forward after struggling with a rookie combination to date.

Most interestingly, however, is the timing of Briatore's decision, which would now be taken after the outcome of the FIA hearing into McLaren's role in the current spy scandal is known. With rumours that Fernando Alonso would be free to leave the Woking team if his image is tarnished by a guilty verdict, could Flav be waiting to pull off the most unlikely coup of recent seasons?

 

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