It’s official – Fernando Alonso is returning to Formula 1 in 2021. He’s replacing Daniel Ricciardo at Renault, the same team with which the now 39-year-old Spaniard won two World Championships in 2005 and 2006.
Alonso started his F1 career in 2001 with Minardi, before joining Renault as a test driver in 2002. He raced for the French team from 2003 until 2006, winning many races and, of course, those two World Championships.
In 2007 he moved to McLaren to partner a young Lewis Hamilton, but only stayed for a season, and swapped back to Renault for 2008 and 2009. In 2010 Alonso went to Ferrari (where he would finish second in the World Championship three times), then in 2015 he went back to McLaren. Frustrated by a string of poor results, he eventually left the sport after the 2018 season.
In total he has won 32 Grands Prix, and finished on the podium 97 times. Since he last raced in F1, Alonso has won the Le Mans 24 Hours twice with Toyota, competed in the Dakar Rally and made two (failed) attempts to win the Indy 500 as part of his assault on motorsport’s ‘triple crown’.
Alonso will partner Esteban Ocon from 2021, after Daniel Ricciardo moves to McLaren. He’s supposedly signed a two-year deal. Renault Sport Racing’s MD Cyril Abiteboul says the Spaniard’s mission “will be to help Renault DP World F1 Team prepare for the 2022 season in the best possible conditions”.
Why 2022? That’s when the sport’s new technical regulations will be implemented. Alonso said: “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.”
STORY Tom Harrison