Fernando Alonso will race for the Renault F1 team in 2021, it has been confirmed. That’s right, the hero that is Fernando Alonso, really is making his Formula 1 return.
Crazy, right? Or perhaps just returning to his spiritual home? Alonso took a sabbatical from F1 at the end of the 2018 season, having made his debut with Minardi in 2001. He said it was a sabbatical rather than retirement, but with his sights set on winning the Le Mans 24 Hours (he’s now done that twice, in 2018 and 2019) and the Indy 500 (he hasn’t managed that yet, retiring from the lead one time and failing to even qualify another), and time rolling on, a return to F1 seemed less and less likely. But it really is happening.
The two-time F1 champ grabbed both of his titles with Renault, the first in 2005 and the second in 2006, and, understandably, is pretty chuffed to be coming back: “Renault is my family, my fondest memories in Formula 1 with my two World Championship titles, but I’m now looking ahead.
"It’s a great source of pride and with an immense emotion I’m returning to the team that gave me my chance at the start of my career and which now gives me the opportunity to return to the highest level. I have principles and ambitions in line with the team’s project. Their progress this winter gives credibility to the objectives for the 2022 season and I will share all my racing experience with everyone from the engineers to the mechanics and my team-mates. The team wants and has the means to get back on the podium, as do I.”
Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director of Renault Sport Racing, has said: “The signing of Fernando Alonso is part of Groupe Renault’s plan to continue its commitment to F1 and to return to the top of the field. His presence in our team is a formidable asset on the sporting level but also for the brand to which he is very attached. The strength of the bond between him, the team and the fans make him a natural choice.
"In addition to past successes, it is a bold mutual choice as well as a project for the future. His experience and determination will enable us to get the best out of each other to take the team towards the excellence that modern Formula 1 demands. He will also bring to our team, which has grown very fast, a culture of racing and winning to overcome hurdles together. Alongside Esteban, his mission will be to help Renault DP World F1 Team prepare for the 2022 season in the best possible conditions.”
“Renault is my family, my fondest memories in Formula One with my two World Championship titles, but I'm now looking ahead. It's a great source of pride and with an immense emotion I’m returning to the team [...]" - @alo_oficial#RSspiritpic.twitter.com/H9tUKpr4OI
For how long Alonso will remain at Renault is unknown at this stage. Alonso is unlikely to take a race win in 2021 as car development has been pretty much frozen for all teams from 2020 to 2021 following the coronavirus pandemic, so the idea of him taking his third world title is far fetched. But with some serious rule changes coming to F1 in 2022, you never know…