A BMW communications director has confirmed to Spanish media that Formula One team BMW Sauber is in talks with Fernando Alonso, Spain's two-time F1 world champion. The German-Swiss team earlier delayed an announcement, expected Monday, of its 2009...
A BMW communications director has confirmed to Spanish media that Formula One team BMW Sauber is in talks with Fernando Alonso, Spain's two-time F1 world champion. The German-Swiss team earlier delayed an announcement, expected Monday, of its 2009 driver lineup.
Gigi Corbetta of BMW's Spanish office told a radio station and Marca newspaper that Ferrari's weekend announcement of current world champion Kimi Raikkonen, the only other world champ active in F1, signing with the Prancing Horse through 2010 has escalated BMW's talks with the Spaniard.
Appraisals of Alonso as the best driver working in the sport have circulated in recent weeks as teams have identified him as the key player to 2009 driver lineups. No less than Ross Brawn, currently running the Honda F1 team has sung Alonso's praises and indicated his team would benefit from the Spaniard's presence. Brawn worked with the statistical champion of champions, retired seven-time world driving titlist Michael Schumacher, at Benetton and at Ferrari, where the Italian team recorded an unprecedented string of championships.
Last year's nightmare at McLaren Mercedes, whence Alonso bailed on a three-year deal after rookie Lewis Hamilton, an Englishman, emerged as team darling and challenged with the Spaniard for the world driving title that went to Raikkonen by a one-point margin, is thought to have tainted the reputation of the driver who beat Schumacher to the title in the German's final two seasons. Alonso delivered the sport new fans in abundance, resulting in two grands prix in Spain this season. This season Alonso returned to Renault, where he won the '05 and '06 championships, on a contract understood to allow him latitude to move to a better team in 2009. Alonso has not had a top-three finish in his second turn with the team that was set to scale back or end its F1 involvement when the Spaniard signed with McLaren.
BMW Sauber, which topped the constructors' points table early in the season and now lie third, have most consistently challenged Ferrari and McLaren this season. Pole Robert Kubica and German Nick Heidfeld are the team's current drivers. Kubica overshadowed his older teammate consistently through the first half of the season, including leading a one-two finish in Canada, but has struggled slightly the past few races. He has spoken out in wanting the team to put forth more effort. Heidfeld, meantime, has been driving to save his job.
Friends as well as colleagues, Alonso and Kubica are among a handful of drivers who regularly play poker together during race weekends.
Team boss Mario Theissen was coy about Alonso in an interview with a German news agency. "We are always interested in fast drivers," he told SID. He did not confirm the team's 2009 lineup and told the agency reported criticisms of the team by Kubica have been resolved.
Asked about his future at last weekend's Italian Grand Prix, Alonso said he would confirm nothing before the Singapore Grand Prix, the final weekend of the month. Singapore is the first of three races in Asia before the season concludes the opening weekend of November in Brazil.