Briatore: Kovalainen is my new challenge
|By Michele Lostia
||Tuesday, October 24th 2006, 13:05 GMT
Renault team chief Flavio Briatore believes he can turn Finn Heikki Kovalainen into a championship contender who is able to respond to Fernando Alonso, now that the Spaniard is leaving for McLaren.
Alonso, who last Sunday became the youngest Formula One driver to win a second consecutive world championship, announced before the start of the season that he will leave Renault for McLaren in 2007.
Subsequently, Renault signed test driver Kovalainen to partner Giancarlo Fisichella next season, and Briatore says developing the Finnish driver is his new challenge.
"With Alonso we found the anti-Schumacher, and with Kovalainen I hope to find the anti-Alonso. For me it's a new challenge," Briatore, who won consecutive championships with Michael Schumacher at Benetton in 1994 and 1995, told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport.
Briatore again insisted that there was no way for him to keep Alonso at Renault and suggested the Spaniard too may find life in Formula One is just not quite the same outside the French outfit.
"Alonso won't be the same without Renault, who have given him two titles in two years," Briatore stated. "[This year,] Alonso was stratospheric. A war animal.
"But after years at Renault he wanted a change, and I couldn't do anything about it."
Yet despite relishing the challenge of grooming another potential star, Briatore admitted he would have loved to go back to his first success.
"I'm sorry Michael has quit," Briatore said of Schumacher. "Otherwise, I would have signed him again."