We now know that Renault will say goodbye to Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari farewells Sebastian Vettel. McLaren and Ferrari will then welcome Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz…but who will take the seat vacated by The Australian. Rumors suggest that Fernando Alonso will be the name. Former Renault guru and larger than life adviser to Alonso, Flavio Briatore, had even hinted that the French team may have opened the door for a return of the retired (for now?) former champion.
Alonso has had a few teams to list on his CV, with McLaren and Ferrari also in his little black book. The two championships he banked with Renault were 14 and 15 years ago, and notable to putting a halt to the reign of Michael Schumacher.
However, for some, the concern would be pace. Both Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica had breaks before a return, and their track records have proven to be less than stellar since. Alonso turns 39 in 2020. However, he has impressed in racing outside of F1, with a stint in Le Mans (and winning) plus has tilted at IndyCar. Indeed, it’s a goal of his to be an IndyCar champion and be a member of a very rare club, those that have entered the “Triple Crown of Motorsport” club. So rare, in fact, that Graham Hill is currently the only member…
With Vettel out of contract also at the end of this year, his name is not without consideration either, however, support for Alonso comes from McLaren. Zak Brown feels Alonso at Renault is a no-brainer, saying “I think he’s undecided, and if I was running Renault, that’s who I’d put in the car: big name, fast as anyone, won two championships with them, so he’s got history.”
Alonso had gone to McLaren in 2015 after his stint with Ferrari, but results of any measure were few and far between, going from 6th to 17th in the drivers’ championship. Another point counting against Alonso taking the seat is where Renault sat at the end of 2019, and the perceived path the team needs to take to be competitive. This leaves a question unanswered, with that question being: has Alonso got the patience to be used, effectively, as a test driver and assist the team with its search for the up-tick? “I don’t know if Fernando has the appetite to go on a three-year journey versus getting in a car in which he can win in, in 2021,” said Brown.
Adding to the intrigue though, was an admittance by Alonso in a live chat session on a social media platform that his 2021 plans would be revealed. According to French magazine Auto Hebdo, Alonso has already signed a pre-agreement with the team. On his social media channels, Alonso has been posting snippets of him racing with Renault. Alonso won his back-to-back F1 titles with Renault.
As they say, watch this space.