At a press conference held this afternoon at the Magny-Cours circuit in France, Renault F1 President Patrick Faure outlined the team's strategy for 2003. Along with this, one of Formula one's worst kept secrets was finally made official, with the much expected announcement that Fernando Alonso will be replacing Jenson Button in the 2003 season to race alongside Jarno Trulli.
As predicted by many, Alonso's testing year with the team has been in preparation for this day and with this announcement now made, the future of Jenson Button shouldn't too far off. Faure admitted that it was a tough decision choosing between the two, however their goals for next year involves a different plan of attack.
"The choice between Jenson and Fernando has been a very difficult one," said Patrick Faure. "Jenson has done a great job this year, scoring points regularly whilst showing commitment and team spirit. We have all greatly appreciated his efforts and achievements. However, Renault's long-term strategy is based on investing in drivers who can guarantee stability and continuity to the team as it grows in competitiveness. While Jenson is contracted to another team, Fernando is part of the RDD (Renault Driver Development) program. We feel that his performance this year as our test driver has been so promising that his great potential needs to be exploited straight away. I believe that we will have a very strong driver line-up next season, combining Jarno's experience and technical expertise with Fernando's impressive natural talent. They will be crucial as our 2003 car will be more competitive and capable of achieving real results."
"This season we have been very lucky to have three of the best current F1 drivers in the team. Unfortunately we cannot keep all of them and a decision had to be taken,” added Flavio Briatore. “Fernando has done an excellent job behind the scenes, impressing the team. He is ready to drive next year. I am sorry to see Jenson go, as he has done a superb job for us this season. I have no doubt he has a brilliant future ahead of him in Formula One. On behalf of the whole team I would like to thank him for the commitment he has shown so far and, I am sure, will continue to show until the end of the season."