Friday November 16th, 2001
Renault boss Flavio Briatore has sent a warning to both Briton Jenson Button and Italian Jarno Trulli, who will drive for the French outfit in 2002.
Button made his Formula One debut in 2000 with the Williams team, but after a promising year the Briton was forced to move to Benetton to make way for Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, who has impressed in his rookie season winning a race and scoring three pole positions.
With Benetton, Button struggled in 2001, failing to live up to the hype and Briatore believes 2002 will be a decisive year for the 21-year old, whose contract with them expires at the end of the season.
"This will be Button's make or break year," Briatore said in an interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa. "He started really well with Williams, but after that he let us down a bit. He can't afford to make mistakes now, because he risks losing his place.
"The same can be said of Trulli, he too must make the most of his chance of racing in a top team. You can't have pity for no-one in this business"
Renault, who have taken over from Benetton to make their official return as a team next season, aim to finish in the top four in the Constructors' Championship.
The French team announced earlier on Friday that they will unveil their 2002 challenger on January 27, and Briatore has revealed that they will start the new season with an evolution of the radical 111-degree V10 engine.
"We will face the first three races with an evolution of the 2001 engine," added Briatore. "After that there will be a development. But the decisive step will be made the following year.
"But we are already satisfied, as the half-English, half-French team is working fine. I'm feeling optimistic."
Briatore said he intended to stay at Renault for the next three years even if some people at the French team were not happy with having an Italian in charge.
"The president of Renault Sport, Patrick Faure, clarified some time ago that there are no problems," he told Gazzetta dello Sport. "The French will have to put up with me for another three years and I have no intention of letting go. I am an integral part of Renault.
"Having an Italian boss doesn't please everybody, I know. But even Ferrari at the end of the day has a French boss. I am their choice and today things are going very well."
Published at 12:52:30 GMT