Renault F1 boss Flavio Briatore has again made no secret of his desire to have double world champion Fernando Alonso back in the fold, but insists that the Spaniard is not on his shopping list for 2008.

Although he has delayed making a decision on Renault's line-up for next season until Monza at the earliest, Briatore was keen to play down speculation that he is waiting for the current situation between Alonso and McLaren to play out before confirming who will partner Heikki Kovalainen at Enstone in 2008. The Finn's recent performances make it likely that he will be retained, with either veteran Giancarlo Fisichella or Nelson Piquet Jr the current favourite to partner him.

However, should Alonso go through with his threat to quit McLaren - with or without a third world title - Briatore has admitted that he would be first in the queue to snap him up.

"Of course I'd like to have Fernando back - he was a lot better with me," he told Spanish newspaper Marca, "I know it, Spain knows it, but he has a contract."

Asked whether he thought his former charge would free himself from his three-year deal with McLaren, Briatore said that the current impasse was something only the team and driver could work out. Alonso has repeatedly suggested that he would not be seen in silver next season - and, at the height of the row in Hungary, even threatened to quit the Woking team before the end of the campaign. It now appears that he will see 2007 through to its conclusion, but both a switch of allegiance and retirement have been mentioned in recent weeks.

"Whatever is wrong, Alonso and McLaren are the ones that have to fix it," Briatore said, before adding, "I don't know if Fernando will continue in the team in 2008."

The Spaniard's title hopes received a minor boost at the weekend, when he inherited a podium that appeared destined for rookie team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Although Ferrari always looked likely to take a 1-2 in Istanbul, Hamilton was on course for third until suffering a tyre failure entering the final third of the race. Alonso remains second in the standings, but is now just five points adrift of his team-mate.

Renault, by contrast, has struggled since Alonso left, claiming that focusing on the Spaniard's 2006 title battle with Michael Schumacher caused it to take its eye off the development of this year's R27. Although the team has made gains in recent races, it faces a tough battle for third in the constructors' standings with BMW Sauber.

 

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