Alonso in the hot seat

Alonso to Honda? It could happen. We are currently in the middle of the “silly season” as it is called when all the drivers and teams are either signed or reshuffled. And Honda, Renault and possibly even Ferrari are amid the decks of cards that are in dealer’s hands. The latest report is that Alonso could end up a driver for Honda, knocking out either Button or Barrichello. But let’s break down some of these rumors.

First off, Honda is really pushing to try and get Alonso. Why? Well, it seems that Ross Brawn has recently been quoted as saying that Alonso is the only person in F1 that he sees as being the complete package (maybe because he knows he can’t get his hands on Lewis). The Honda team is convinced that if Alonso comes to their end of the pit lane, that he will make them a winning team in two years time. Now don’t get me wrong, I think that Alonso is a pretty good driver – you have to be to be where he is and have won what he has – but let’s be honest, his attitude sucks. Everyone knows it and this is a worrying point. He just isn’t going to be happy unless he has a car he can win with AND he is the supreme #1 driver on the team. This should worry both Button and Barrichello as they have traditionally always been the #2 or equal drivers, and one of them would be gone. But Brawn has no trouble with this system because he had Michael Schumacher on his team for many years as the definitive #1.

The second point that needs to be made is that if Renault get to 4th place in the Championship standings, he will be under contract for Renault for another year, no ifs ands or buts about it. Now this is just something I heard this last weekend, but it makes sense. I’m sure that most drivers have something in their contract that would bind them to a team if certain criteria are met. Alonso, having just returned to Renault this year, after a disastrous 2007 at McLaren, would most likely have had something put in his contract for fear that he would simply pack up again and move if the underachieving Renault didn’t make any progress. As it stands right now, Renault is only four points behind Toyota, who look to be very strong with Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli scoring points on a regular basis. Conspiracy theorists unite on this one because Alonso might simply end up dogging it for the last few races, knowing that Honda are willing to pay him big and are extremely positive about their car for next year and the Renault team is in some sort of rebuilding process. If he ends up not getting the points that Renault need him to get, I certainly wouldn’t look to Nelson “Don’t call me Junior” Piquet to get it done either. He may just end up dogging it to let Toyota gain a lead in the Constructors race and then defect to Honda. But who would be out?

Considering the fact that both Button and Barrichello have never won the big title – Button because he has had underachieving machinery and Barrichello because he had Michael on the team – it would seem that they would be relegated to playing the second fiddle again. But figure this, Barrichello has a long-standing relationship with Ross Brawn and Button used to race for Renault and Flavio “the Flavinator” Briatore. So it would only make sense that Button could be out at Honda and it would be an Alonso/Barrichello match up at Honda and a Piquet/Button/Driver TBA match up at Renault. The easiest way to make this happen, of course, would be to just do a driver for driver switch and be done with it. But things rarely work the way they should in F1. Essentially this is my way of saying “Watch This Space.”

But let’s not forget that other wild rumor flying around. Alonso to Ferrari. Yes the prancing horse from Maranello might end up with a Spaniard vying for victory (in fact, that is what Placido Domingo of the Three Tenors would like to see happen). But I think that this is the longest shot there is. Kimi has said that he might want to race again next year and the year after and… (Who knows, shades of Brett Favre anyone?) and Massa looks like a strong contender for the future (if he can keep it under control). So why would Ferrari want to have someone come into the team that might just disrupt everything they do? It all comes down to what Brawn said earlier; that Alonso is the most complete driver in the field. While this may be true if he has a perfect product, it would mean that he would again be fighting against his former teammate Hamilton for the race win. I just don’t see the Big Red Machine signing someone who could potentially ruin everything they have tried to set up for the future.

My prediction then is that, if Alonso does move, it will be to Honda, bumping Button back to Briatore. Alonso will stay there until he feels the car is no longer competitive and then end up disrupting the team to the point of frustration and Ferrari will win back to back driver’s titles with Massa and Raikkonen.

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