AFTER months of speculation, the Renault F1 Team and Fernando Alonso confirmed that they would reunite for the third time come the 2021 Formula 1 season.
Renault’s hiring of Alonso now completes the merry-go-round of cockpits since Ferrari’s decision to not extend Sebastian Vettel’s contract after the current season.
The former double World Champion had officially quit Formula 1 at the end of 2018.
However, in typical Alonso fashion, he had dropped strong hints that a comeback would be possible under the right circumstances.
For Alonso, the new regulations that will come into effect from 2022 seem to be the right time for him to make a comeback.
Alonso explained, “I think with the new rules, the sport will finally put the driver back at the centre of the performance with more fairness between the teams and a better show on-track.”
This is why Alonso’s decision to return isn’t as surprising as it is with his team of choice. But truth be told, Renault was Alonso’s only ‘works team’ option.
The top-3 teams in Formula 1 (Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull Racing) have long ignored Alonso’s calls for a chance to race and win with them.
Alonso tried and failed to win a title with Ferrari (2010-14) while Mercedes refused to give the Spaniard a second chance after their relationship fractured in 2007 (when it was Mclaren-Mercedes).
Despite Alonso’s claims of interest from Red Bull Racing several times in his career, the reality has been Red Bull’s preference for younger talent from their driver program rather than hiring a big star.
Even with Mclaren, the team Alonso last raced with in Formula 1 (2015-18), Daniel Ricciardo was the choice to fill the vacancy created by the Ferrari-bound Carlos Sainz Jr.
Ironically for Alonso, Mclaren’s fortunes turned around in the season after he left the team – as has been the case with most teams he raced with in his career.
While Alonso might not rue the missed podium opportunities with Mclaren (they’ve scored two podiums in the last three races), he will regret not racing for the team when they reunite with Mercedes power units in 2021.
Although it can be argued that Mercedes may not have agreed to provide power units to Mclaren if Alonso was still racing for them!