Williams has emerged as a surprise candidate to land the services of Fernando Alonso next season, as the double world champion keeps his options open with regard to a future role at Ferrari.

According to Spain's as.com, Alonso could be tempted to spend a single season with the Grove team before heading off to Maranello, rather than find himself bound to a three-year deal at former employer Renault, or struggling at the back of the midfield battle at Toyota. Quite what Frank Williams gets out of the deal is hard to see, however, other than the kudos of having a double world champion leading his attack.

Although Renault remains favourite to land Alonso should he decide, as is likely, to flee McLaren for 2008, there has been no movement on that front since the season finale in Brazil a week ago, as McLaren waits to talk to both its drivers about their future involvement with the team. Lewis Hamilton, however, will be discussing little other than the size of his salary increase.

"Several options are open and we are discussing them all," Alonso told Spain's Telecinco television channel, "I have an idea, an intention, an illusion. I know what I want to do next year, but I do not know if it will be possible. Whatever happens, it will be a difficult year."

The double champion intimated that he would not remain as Hamilton's team-mate in 2008, and hinted that neither Renault or Toyota were at the head of that list of options.

Toyota, however, remains undaunted, and insists that it is waiting to pick up the pieces should Alonso not sign with Flavio Briatore. As Williams 'engine partner', could the Cologne operation pull rank on Grove and steal the Spaniard away? Toyota would certainly be able to out-bid Williams, and probably even Renault, to land Alonso, but would the double champion want to go there?

If Ferrari is the ultimate destination for Alonso - and there have been an unusual number of plaudits from members of the Prancing Horse in recent weeks - it is unlikely that McLaren would let him go directly to Maranello next season, thus a year at a supposedly 'lesser' team would make more sense than a year on 'gardening leave'.

None of the four teams now involved in the Alonso debate have announced their line-ups for next season - unlike Ferrari - but will be looking to tie up loose ends in the next couple of weeks, with the first of the winter tests scheduled to kick off in Barcelona on 13 November.

Williams has one berth confirmed as vacant for 2008, following Alex Wurz's decision to retire from racing, although Toyota protege Kazuki Nakajima is rumoured to be in line for that seat. Meanwhile, the team has openly admitted that it is unwilling to part with Nico Rosberg, who has been linked to both McLaren and Toyota. Should it manage to retain the German, another season as reserve combined with GP2 would surely not harm Nakajima.....



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