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Alonso fastest on return to Renault
January 16, 2008 09:13 IST
Double world champion Fernando Alonso [Images] made a perfect start to his return to Renault on Tuesday with the fastest time in testing at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain.
The Spaniard, back with the team that took him to two titles before his ill-fated move to McLaren at the end of 2006, did 70 laps with a best of one minute 19.503 seconds in last year's car, according to unofficial timings.
Alonso, who left McLaren in November after a stormy season with the Mercedes-powered team, was happy to be back on familiar territory.
"I was a bit tentative to begin with because it has been a long time since I have driven an F1 car, but I could not wait to start working with the team," the 26-year-old said in an interview released by Renault.
"This was the first time that I have driven without traction control but towards the end of my runs I started gradually to take a few more risks with the car."
Alonso said the team is different to the one he had left.
"There have been some big changes, they have improved a lot of things and strengthened many areas, so in one sense it is a new adventure with a new team.
"At the same time it is impossible to forget the six years I spent as a Renault driver and my memories of that time are still strong."
Alonso won four races with McLaren but finished third in last year's championship.
The Spaniard's relationship with that team steadily deteriorated as they insisted on equal treatment with British rookie Lewis Hamilton [Images], who went on to finish runner-up in the championship behind Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.
McLaren also became embroiled in a long-running spy controversy over leaked Ferrari data that ended with them being stripped of all their constructors' points and fined $100 million.
Alonso said his approach to the new season, which starts in Australia on March 16, would be no different.
"At the start of any season, the only thing I want to do is work hard and to give maximum effort to achieve my potential," he said, sporting a new helmet design for the year ahead.
"I want to give everything I can and I know the team will do everything to win."
Alonso said he had been training intensively in Switzerland [Images] and is looking forward to testing before the launch of the 2008 car in Paris at the end of the month.
Alonso has another 22-year-old rookie team mate in Brazilian Nelson Piquet junior, son of the triple champion and namesake, but he expects no repeat of the problems he faced at McLaren alongside Hamilton.
"For 2008, I don't anticipate problems with anybody and [Renault team boss] Flavio [Briatore] has always demonstrated that he can manage these situations very well," he said.
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