The pitlanes were rife with rumours that Formula 1’s prodigal son was about to jump in the cockpit of the finest that open-wheeled racing had to offer and now it’s finally confirmed that Fernando Alonso will be returning to the team that powered him to his two titles.
Renault confirmed that the Spaniard will be making a comeback as Daniel Ricciardo’s replacement as the Aussie bolts for McLaren in 2021. Alonso will be pairing Esteban Ocon for the French team.
Universally acknowledged as one of the discipline’s best, the 38-year old will be vying with plenty of young guns that have proven to be a handful for the grid’s old hands though the experience of winning back-to-back titles can’t be disregarded.
2021 will mark the end of a two-year sabbatical from the sport for Alonso, as he pursued other racing disciplines including the Indianapolis 500 and the World Endurance Championship with Toyota; the latter netting him a world title again.
After two seasons off the grid, the soon-to-be 39-year-old Alonso will rejoin Renault for a third stint at the Enstone team where he won his two titles in 2005-2006.
Before jumping back in the Renault’s seat though, Alonso will have to contest his McLaren at Indy in August as part of McLaren’s new Indy team.
Since his debut with Minardi in 2001, Alonso has racked up over 300 grand prixs, 32 wins and two world titles in 2005 and 2006. The wins were across his stints at three teams, Renault, McLaren and Ferrari. Despite the impressive credentials, his last win was back in 2013.
Despite this, the move to secure Alonso’s services is a solid indication of Renault’s desire to close the gap on the top three teams of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. On the downside, his signing ends speculation of Sebastian Vettel’s continuance in Formula 1 after being dropped by Ferrari for Carlos Sainz Jr.