Guest Author - Christine Blachford
Renault must have been really happy to get Fernando Alonso back with them, after his ill-advised year at McLaren in 2007. Alonso fitted right back in as if he'd never left and the team got straight back to work. Unfortunately, things weren't working quite as well as they were when he left them, and they spent the first few races struggling at the lower end of the mid-field.
Alonso was determined to have a good year, whether or not they got any wins, just to make up for his disappointment within the McLaren team. He was teamed with Nelson Piquet Jr, a rookie who was super confident when he first stepped into the car. After just a few short races, he realised that Formula 1 wasn't going to be as easy as he first thought. He humbled a little, put his head down and started to learn.
Renault admitted they had a problem with their engine this year, and seemed to have made a mistake before the engine freeze was in place. It meant no matter what they did to the aerodynamics, they didn't have the power pushing the car to make the difference. This was never clearer than for customer team Red Bull who rapidly fell behind the Ferrari powered Toro Rosso, despite both having the same chassis.
Nevertheless, towards the latter half of the season, things started to look up for Renault. After Vettel took his surprise maiden win in Italy, we didn't think Singapore could offer up anything more unusual. However, Alonso brought back his winning ways and took the top step of the podium at F1's first ever night race. It was a massive leap for the team, and whilst some may have called it a lucky win, their next victory in Japan was even better. Back to back wins meant the team finished the season with a massive jump in points and more importantly, a huge boost in motivation.
The announcement that the team would be retaining both Alonso and Piquet was a surprise, as the rookie hadn't been outstanding, but the consistency should serve Renault well. Times in F1 are tough at the moment, and the bosses at Renault HQ have always been slightly wary of investing so much into the sport. However, Renault F1 are sure that they'll be on the grid next year, and fighting for wins. I hope they are.