Mar.10 (GMM) Team boss Flavio Briatore has counted Renault out of the running for at least the opening three races of 2008.
To France's Journal du Dimanche newspaper, however, the Italian chief suggests that the new R28 single seater is not as bad as it seemed at some of the recent winter tests.Briatore said he is "confident that in Melbourne, things will look better", before the car gets a substantial upgrade for April's Spanish grand prix.What he is really happy about is that Fernando Alonso, after an uncomfortable season with McLaren, is now back to top form."He is more mature, very concentrated, very happy. Actually, we feel like we have already won because Fernando is smiling again."Last year I didn't recognise him. Now he knows where he is and that everything is clear," he said.Briatore said the Spaniard is not necessarily being paid more in 2008, but confirmed that Alonso did ask for "sporting guarantees".He also points out that Alonso's rookie teammate, Nelson Piquet, is "intelligent" enough not to create problems for the double world champion."He knows that, at his age, he is extraordinarily lucky to already be with a top team."There is no competition between them," Briatore added. "That would be suicide for Nelsinho; instead, he is there to learn."Briatore also defended his decision to part with 2007 rookie Heikki Kovalainen after just a single season.The Italian said that, "to get Fernando, we had to let (Heikki) go."Anyway, he went to McLaren, and I thought we had to improve our team relations," Briatore joked.