As Fernando Alonso is allegedly about to demonstrate, history has an amusing way of repeating itself. After winning two consecutive Formula 1 world championships at Renault, and narrowly missing a third during his first year at McLaren, Alonso returned to the Enstone-based team for a fruitless stint before bailing on Renault a second time. And now, after a similarly unsuccessful few years at McLaren and a diverting subsequent gap year, Alonso is officially heading back to Renault yet again for the 2021 F1 season.
Described in May by his former manager and close friend/advisor Flavio Briatore as being “motivated and ready to return to F1,” Alonso has, according to BBC, been discussing an F1 comeback with Renault as far back as November 2019. Now that the outfit’s star driver Daniel Ricciardo is confirmed to be migrating to McLaren next year, the open seat is ripe for filling by Alonso, whose return to the team was announced Wednesday.
Update 7/8/20 8:30 a.m EST: Per a release from the Renault F1 team, Alonso has been confirmed as a driver for the 2021 F1 season. This story has been edited to reflect this new information.
Alonso will partner Esteban Ocon, who endured a similar gap year in 2019 due to the cruel game of musical chairs that is F1’s driver market. Despite the Spaniard’s reputation for extracting every thousandth of a second from everything he drives, his advanced age for an F1 driver could mean the sport won’t see the return of the same driver it saw in 2018, which is when Alonso last contested a Grand Prix. And even if he performs at the same level he always has, Renault’s slip back down the grid means that fighting for Grand Prix victories once again could be a loftier goal than winning the Indianapolis 500—and motorsport’s esteemed Triple Crown with it.
I can’t help but think: is an F1 team better off hiring an old talent rather than investing in the future? I’d like to see a young driver who’s worked his butt off to reach the top get a seat, rather than Alonso who, for as great as he is, is old news in Formula 1. Let’s keep the line moving, folks.
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