Despite the rumour mill hinting that a Renault-Fernando Alonso deal is all-but done, the paddock whispers linking the double Formula 1 World Champion to Red Bull Racing in the wake of his acrimonious divorce from McLaren are also gathering pace.

With Toyota having seemingly dropped out of the running - team principal John Howett being quoted as saying "I'm not sure we're yet ready to offer Fernando the sort of package he's looking for" and increasing overtures from the big budget Japanese manufacturer to recently-crowned GP2 Champion Timo Glock - and Williams having confirmed a Nico Rosberg-Kazuki Nakajima line-up earlier this week, the battle for the Spaniard's services next year would appear to have come down to a straight fight between Renault and Renault-powered RBR.

According to Spanish daily newspaper Diario As, the 26-year-old's manager Luis Garc?a Abad met with Red Bull magnate Dietrich Mateschitz and co-owner of sister outfit Toro Rosso, Gerhard Berger, in Madrid on Wednesday. Rumours last week evinced a possible Alonso-Ross Brawn-Adrian Newey 'dream team' at the Milton Keynes-based squad

Both teams have two contracted drivers for 2008 - David Coulthard and Mark Webber in the former's case and Sebastian Vettel and multiple Champ Car king Sebastien Bourdais at the latter. One suggestion, though, is that Coulthard could be deposed to the Toro Rosso Red Bull 'B' team to make space for Alonso, with Bourdais being asked to spend one final season racing across the Pond before making his long-anticipated F1 debut.

Rival teams, however, have poured scorn on such possibilities.

"I don't think they're yet ready or good enough for somebody of Alonso's calibre," grand prix website F1-live.com quotes one team director as saying. "They need at least another couple of years before they can expect to be in with a chance of winning."

 

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