Monday November 26th, 2001
Becoming a test driver after an impressive first season of racing in Formula One is not a step backwards in his career, according to Fernando Alonso.
The 20-year old Spaniard will be Renault's tester in 2002 after a promising rookie season with the Minardi team in 2001, and though he did not score any points for the small Faenza-based outfit, Alonso is already being tipped as a future star.
Despite not racing next year, Alonso - under contract from French manufacturer Renault - believes his job as test driver will be crucial for the success of the team.
"It's not a step backwards, it's just that I won't be in the spotlight so much, because I won't be racing, but my job is of great importance because developing a Formula One car is a very difficult task," Alonso told Spanish news agency Efe.
"I'm going to have a big responsibility, and this year I will have to help the two racing drivers so they can have a good car and I will also work on the development of the 2003 car, suiting it to my style so when I race that year I'll have a slight advantage."
Renault, who took over from Benetton, will make their official return as a team next season.
Published at 16:48:02 GMT