As the 2020 Formula 1 season finally got under way last weekend in Austria at the Red Bull Ring, teams are already looking ahead to the 2021 season and their respective driver line-ups.
Renault DP World F1 Team has confirmed today that two-time world champion Fernando Alonso will be driving for the team alongside Esteban Ocon for the 2021 season, replacing Daniel Ricciardo who is moving to McLaren. The 38-year-old Spaniard who will turn 39 this month, is often regarded as one of the greatest drivers in Formula 1 and won both his championship titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006.
Alonso will be one of the most experienced drivers in Formula 1 when he returns next season, with 314 Grand Prix starts, 32 wins and 97 podiums in his Formula 1 career to date. There is also a strong historic and emotional bond between the team and Alonso given the fact that they won their two world championship titles together in 2005 and 2006. There is no doubt that this decision is both bold and meaningful for the future for Alonso and Renault.
Renault is one of the strongest and well-established brands in the sport, and with his return to Formula 1, Alonso brings with him a wealth of experience he has gained in his time away, becoming champion of the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship and two-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2018 and 2019 with Toyota. He also won the 24 Hours of Daytona last year. There is no doubt that Alonso will be a real asset to Renault next season and help the team win back the title and reward Renault’s commitment to the highest level of motorsport. There is a real desire to build a team around two complementary drivers, combining the experience of Alonso with the youth of Ocon. Fernando’s fighting spirit is also greatly admired and should benefit the whole team, allowing everyone involved to achieve the ultimate goal of winning the world championship again.
Cyril Abiteboul, who is Managing Director of Renault Sport Racing said: “The signing of Fernando Alonso is part of Groupe Renault’s plan to continue its commitment to F1 and to return to the top of the field. His presence in our team is a formidable asset on the sporting level but also for the brand to which he is very attached. The strength of the bond between him, the team and the fans make him a natural choice. In addition to past successes, it is a bold mutual choice as well as a project for the future. His experience and determination will enable us to get the best out of each other to take the team towards the excellence that modern Formula 1 demands. He will also bring to our team, which has grown very fast, a culture of racing and winning to overcome hurdles together. Alongside Esteban, his mission will be to help Renault DP World F1 Team prepare for the 2022 season in the best possible conditions.”
Fernando Alonso commented: “Renault is my family, my fondest memories in Formula One with my two World Championship titles, but I’m now looking ahead. 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.”
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel, a member of The Guild of Motoring Writers, professional photographer and former saloon car racing driver.
Photographs courtesy of Renault F1 Team