Briatore Not Surprised by Alonso's Speed

Spaniard Fernando Alonso has been encouraged to take on World Champion Michael Schumacher more often by his Renault team boss Flavio Briatore after a tough challenge for victory in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.

Briatore Not Surprised by Alonso's Speed

Spaniard Fernando Alonso has been encouraged to take on World Champion Michael Schumacher more often by his Renault team boss Flavio Briatore after a tough challenge for victory in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.

Alonso spent last year testing for Renault as the team nurtured him into an intelligent Grand Prix racer and the 21-year-old came close to scoring an emotional maiden win in front of his home crowd at Barcelona.

Briatore dropped Briton Jenson Button last year to make space for Alonso and was criticised for his actions â€" but now believes the doubters will admit he was right all along.

"It has been a great weekend for Renault and for Formula One," said Briatore. "We need something like this. This type of a battle between Alonso and Schumacher is great for Formula One.

"Everyone was surprised when I decided to put Alonso in the car and now everyone is surprised how quick he is, but I'm not surprised, this is my job. I'm never surprised about anything in Formula one because it is what I know."

Renault do not yet have the consistently fast performances needed to haul themselves right to the top of the World Championship ladder but Alonso and highly-rated Italian Jarno Trulli are a promising driver pairing for the future.

The team are now aiming to fight for third in the title race - along with regular front-runners Ferrari, Williams and McLaren-Mercedes - and technical director Mike Gascoyne is aiming for glory.

"In Austria and Canada we'll struggle, but at the aero circuits like Silverstone and Suzuka we should be as good as we were here," said Gascoyne. "In Hungary and Monaco we might be even better and we have to aim for podiums at every race."

Alonso has already claimed three podium finishes, with two third places in Malaysia and Brazil adding to his second place in Barcelona, but Trulli has not been so successful. He has finished in the points in three of the five races, with two fifths and an eighth, but spun out of the Spanish race after qualifying fourth when he clashed with David Coulthard's McLaren-Mercedes.

Trulli's exit marked the first time a Renault failed to get to the finish - and only the second time that they have not both finished in the points. But although the reliability and pace of the R23 are there for all to see Briatore does not want to talk about the future.

"Finishing second to Ferrari like this is a very good result," he said. "We are improving and we are very happy but I don't want to talk about the future too much. This was a great day for Renault and I'm very proud to have this kind of team with me. Fernando is brilliant but we will just wait and see how things go."

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