Although the Formula One rumour mill continues to suggest that Fernando Alonso is on the cusp of signing a deal to return to Renault, counter-speculation insists that Red Bull Racing may yet be the Spaniard's ultimate destination.

The Spanish media, in particular, appears concerned that its double world champion may not be returning to Enstone in 2008, with as.com suggesting that young chargers Heikki Kovalainen and Nelson Piquet Jr are being lined up for the team's return to testing, in Barcelona, next week. Although Piquet has been tipped to land a race seat in the shake-up at Renault, Kovalainen was assumed to be on his way to McLaren or Toyota to make way for Alonso. Should both test the revised R27 - now without traction control - in Barcelona, would it suggest that Alonso is not destined for Enstone in 2008?

Renault's implication in its own 'spy scandal' over the past few days may indeed mitigate against the Spaniard's return, Alonso having just escaped a team already found guilty of possessing another's technical secrets. As a result, team boss Flavio Briatore - admittedly well known for keeping the media guessing - may have decided to plump for Kovalainen and Piquet in 2008, leaving Giancarlo Fisichella on the sidelines.

While the Italian faces an uncertain future should that be the case - although he has been linked to a 'shoot-out' at Force India with fellow veteran Ralf Schumacher - Alonso is not without offers. Although he has missed the boat at outsider Williams, and appears to have turned his back on Toyota's offer of untold dollars, Red Bull continues to court the double champion, and may be prepared to off-load David Coulthard to make way for him. DC, if certain rumours prove well-founded, would then see out his career at Toro Rosso, with Sebastien Bourdais the unlucky man at Faenza.

Kovalainen, meanwhile, remains in the frame at McLaren, with Toyota now expected to target GP2 champion Timo Glock to partner Jarno Trulli. The Finn's main opposition for the Woking ride, provided that Nico Rosberg cannot be prised from his recently-confirmed Williams deal, appears to be Adrian Sutil, who is favoured by Lewis Hamilton after the pair partnered each other at the ASM F3 team in 2005. Kovalainen, however, insists that he has several offers on the table, Renault presumably among them.

 

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