Fernando Alonso will return to former team Renault in 2008, it was officially confirmed today, and as expected he will be partnered at the French outfit by the Regie's current test-driver Nelson Piquet Jnr.

The announcement was made just four days on from Renault's exoneration by the FIA World Motor Sport Council over its role in the 'Spygate' saga that has rocked the sport throughout much of the 2007 campaign. Both of Alonso's two drivers' world championships were won with the Enstone-based outfit in 2005 and 2006.

"Fernando and Nelsinho will form one of the most exciting driver line-ups of 2008," remarked Renault F1 team managing director Flavio Briatore. "We are delighted to be welcoming Fernando back home to the team where he enjoyed his greatest success. His abilities as a driver and a team leader are well known, and we look forward to forging another strong partnership.

"What's more, he knows the team well and how we operate; he will feel comfortable straightaway in this environment. Nelsinho is one of the most promising young talents in motorsport. After his success in GP2, he has spent a year learning the ropes as our test-driver and getting to know the team; he is now ready to step up to the next level."

Alonso left McLaren-Mercedes after just one season last month - two years before his contract was due for renewal - at the end of an acrimonious campaign characterised by very public bust-ups with team chief Ron Dennis and team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Fifteen of the Spaniard's 19 grand prix victories, however, came during his four years spent with Renault, and he will clearly be aiming to add to that tally in 2008.

"The entire team has been working flat-out over the past months to return to the front of the field," asserted team president Bernard Rey, "and a top-line driver line-up is essential to achieving our targets.

"Our recent technology investments, the return of Fernando Alonso to the team and the promotion of Nelsinho Piquet all signal our intent to return to winning ways next year. Renault is also delighted to welcome a talented young Frenchman to the team as test-driver."

That talented young Frenchman is none other than recently-crowned F3 Euroseries king Romain Grosjean, a product of Renault's driver development scheme. The team's 2008 challenger, the Renault R28, will run for the first time during a three-day test in Valencia in Spain from 22-24 January. The car will be officially launched at Renault's corporate communications headquarters in Paris, France on 31 January.

 

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