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GP Week : Issue 24
> F1NEWS> uet decision THE Renault F1 Team has delayed its decision over whether or not it intends to take up its option on rookie Nelson Piquet until the end of September. The news, first reported in German publication Auto Motor und Sport, comes as no great surprise given that the driver market currently sits in limbo until Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Piquet’s Renault team-mate Fernando Alonso announce their movements for 2009. Piquet endured a difficult start to his Formula 1 career, but of late has impressed with mature and determined drives. Since his breakthrough performance at the French Grand Prix, in which he overtook Alonso en route to sixth position and his first points of the season, Piquet has outscored his team-mate 13 points to nine. His most outstanding drive came at Hockenheim where he recorded second place and Renault’s first and thus far sole podium of 2008. Paddock rumour had set that Hockenheim race as an unofficial cut-off point for Piquet to prove to Renault that he was worth his place in Formula 1, and on current performance the Brazilian is doing much to silence his detractors. But with Renault unsure over Alonso’s continued tenure with the team, performances alone may not be enough for the Brazilian to keep his seat. If the Spaniard leaves Renault for either Honda or Ferrari, Piquet will be likely to keep his seat if only for the team to maintain some stability. If Alonso stays, however, Renault may decide to rush the still green Romain Grosjean into Piquet’s seat. While undoubtedly talented and an enormous future prospect, Grosjean has had a dogged GP2 season in 2008, and the general feeling among critics is that he still lacks the maturity and level-headedness of the rivals he would face in Formula 1. Italians Giorgio Pantano and Tonio Liuzzi have also been linked with a Renault seat, as has Brazilian current Renault tester Lucas di Grassi. Grosjean however, thanks in part to his semi-French passport, remains the favourite to join the team in 2009, be it as team-mate to Fernando Alonso, or, should the Spaniard move on, as Piquet’s number two. Dino Toso 1969 – 2008 FORMER Renault F1 Team Director of Aerodynamics Dino Toso has died after a long fight with cancer. He was 39. Toso’s professional career began in a similar fashion to many of his contemporaries, with a period of tenure at his national aerospace industry, where he worked until 1995 when he was taken on by BMW for its GT campaign. In 1997 the Italian landed his first job in Formula 1 for Jordan, where he worked as a race engineer for drivers such as Damon Hill, whom he engineered to the team’s first Formula 1 victory at Spa- Francorchamps in 1998. In 2001 he followed the lead of Mike Gascoyne and departed for Benetton, joining the team as it became Renault for the 2002 F1 season. With John Iley’s departure from the team in 2003, Toso was promoted to the role of Chief Aerodynamicist. It was in 2004 that Toso was diagnosed with cancer, but the Italian ploughed on regardless, taking Renault to one of the greatest and most successful periods in its history as it recorded back to back driver and constructor Formula 1 World Championships in 2005 and 2006. Dino Toso finally stepped down from his position in June, and lost his long fight with cancer last Wednesday. “His contribution to the team, both through his results and his courage in the face of illness, are an inspiration,” said the Renault F1 Team in a statement. “He will be missed enormously and the immediate thoughts of the whole team are with his family.” 11