Fernando Alonso is coming back to Formula One in 2021 after tooling around at the Indianapolis 500 and at Le Mans. I have no idea whether he and Renault will do all that great considering Mercedes will probably dominate again next year ahead of rules changes in 2022, but one can dream.
Alonso tested Renault’s current car in Barcelona today. He will be taking the seat of Daniel Ricciardo, who is driving for McLaren next season; Ricciardo is taking the seat of Carlos Sainz, who will be driving Ferrari next season; Sainz is taking the seat of Sebastian Vettel, who will be driving for Racing Point next season; and Vettel is taking the seat of Sergio Perez, who currently does not have a seat next season but could be going to Haas or Red Bull.
The annual game of Formula One musical chairs, in other words, continues apace but I’m genuinely excited for Alonso to be back.
The Guardian caught up with him after his test today:
Alonso had stated he would only return to F1 in a competitive car and has his sights set on the major regulation changes in 2022, when there is expectation Renault will be able to challenge Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari. He was clearly invigorated by making the first step towards driving competitively again. “It’s going to be an amazing feeling, after two years not driving an F1,” he said before the test. “I’m really looking forward. I think it’s going to be like a new beginning.”
The 39-year-old drove for 100km, the limit in what was designated a promotional and filming day for the team. “It felt amazing to be able to drive these cars after two years and feel the speed again,” he said afterwards. “How everything comes so fast, corner after corner, the performance under braking and all the things a Formula One car has to offer. To feel it once again felt nice.
“The car was outperforming me at the moment because I cannot extract the maximum because getting back to F1 speed is not so easy but I was improving lap after lap. It was high pressure, hard work, the car has potential but there is room to improve.”
Anyway, if you’ve forgotten why Alonso is so great, I invite you to watch the following video (F1 has blocked it from playing on websites outside of YouTube but you can still view it there):
For his part, Alonso considers the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix to be his finest drive ever, and it’s hard to argue with that. The thing about Alonso is that he’s just dripping with racing, in a way that is rivaled, in the current slate of drivers, only by Max Verstappen or Charles LeClerc. You might put Lewis Hamilton in that category too except he’s too clinical.
And Hamilton has the best car, whereas Alonso always seems to be fighting his. The 2022 season can’t get here fast enough.