Fernando Alonso set to return to Formula 1 for the 2021 season
Fernando Alonso has worn many hats in his long and storied career, winning laurels at the top echelons. These include the 2005 and 2006 Formula 1 World Championship, the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship, the 2018 and 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the 2019 24 Hours of Daytona. He was last seen seated next to fellow Spaniard Marc Coma in the Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux at the 2020 Dakar rally.
And now life comes a full circle, with the 38-year-old motorsport athlete set to join the Renault DP World F1 team (the manufacturer he had won his ’05 and ’06 titles with) for the 2021 season, along with Esteban Ocon, sliding right into the seat Daniel Ricciardo will be vacating (in favour of McLaren) at the end of the current season.
What lies ahead
That Alonso will be joining the Renault team had been doing the rounds of the rumour mills for a while. But now that it’s been confirmed, the news has sent waves; though no one will be more affected than Sebastian Vettel. This is because the 33-year-old German was set to exit the Ferrari F1 team at the end of the current season with Carlos Sainz taking his place, but now with Alonso’s appearance on the grid, he suddenly finds himself adrift.
But as mentioned, it’s been a long, long while that Alonso, who has notched up 32 wins and 97 podiums in his career of 314 Grand Prix starts, has won an overall championship. In fact, his best finish was second in 2013, followed by a sixth place standing the next year. This, coupled with the fact that the average age of the grid is steadily reducing (his teammate is a whopping 15 years younger than him!), means he’ll have his work cut out for him when he’s back in the hot seat. Moreover, there’s the issue of teams stuck with the 2020-spec cars, owing to a rule change as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
Alonso's ‘hiatus’ from Formula 1 saw him dabble in other formats, so there’s absolutely no question of him having lost his edge. That said, it’s far too early for us to be passing judgement, good or bad, on how Alonso might fare in the coming season.
So how successful will he be in maintaining his momentum now that he’s back to his alma mater? I guess we’ll have to wait till pre-season testing to find out!