by Russell Atkins


Prior to finally agreeing terms to return to his former outfit Renault for 2008, the team Fernando Alonso was most prominently linked to following his premature split from McLaren-Mercedes last month was Red Bull Racing.

The main sticking point over the Spaniard's immediate future plans was his desire to sign only a one-year contract, but regardless of that, Christian Horner underlined, there was never actually any room at the inn for the double world champion. Indeed, the 34-year-old was effusive in his praise of both Mark Webber and David Coulthard after a 2007 campaign that - though badly marred by reliability woes, particularly early on - was nevertheless the Milton Keynes-based squad's most successful in terms of final position, if not points scored.

"We were flattered to be linked to the discussions about Fernando," RBR's team principal told Radio. "I think he could quite clearly see the progress the team has made over the last 18 months and see that the team is one that's emerging for the future, but Renault is the logical place for him to be.

"We announced our drivers some way back in the summer and have never had any intention of changing that, so whilst it was as I say flattering to be associated with the Alonso speculation, there in reality was never a space with ourselves being committed to our existing drivers.

"They (Coulthard and Webber) are both highly intelligent, professional drivers, and still extremely motivated and very quick. Their strengths and weaknesses are in different parts of the grand prix weekend, but as a driver pairing it's a very strong line-up for us.

"Therefore it was a relatively straightforward decision to extend that partnership into 2008, and I think for what is still a relatively young team to have two drivers with that much experience has been extremely beneficial."

One other driver to have his name linked with Red Bull - as it has indeed been for much of his racing career - is GP2 star Karun Chandhok. The Indian impressed on his maiden F1 try-out with RBR in Spain last month, lapping eleventh quickest out of the 21 drivers present on the day, just seven tenths of a second adrift of Coulthard. Horner admits the squad will be keeping an avid eye on the 23-year-old's progress throughout 2008.

"Karun is a driver who has been involved with Red Bull for a few years now, as we've supported his career in some of the lower formulae," he explained. "He's a very talented driver who's fully focussed on another year of GP2.

"He had a good test with us in Barcelona last month, and we retain a close involvement and a keen interest in following how his career develops. As with so many young drivers, though, there's still an awful lot they have to prove before getting themselves full-time into a Formula 1 cockpit."




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