If Lance Stroll was the best-prepared rookie for his Formula 1 debut, Fernando Alonso is probably the best-prepped veteran making a comeback to the top flight, as he will do next year with Renault.
His presence was felt during the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix where the Spaniard was in the Renault garage, observing and absorbing everything in his line of sight. As sessions took place at Imola, the double F1 World Champion was seen transfixed with what was going on around him, fully in the zone as his return to the grid in 2021 looms.
This week is in Bahrain, Fernando is driving an all-black Renault RS18 of 2018 (campaigned by Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg that year) as the Spaniard takes further measures to ensure he is at his very peak when he returns to the cockpit he has missed since he ‘quit’ the sport at the end of 2018.
Wearing a distinct ‘test-livery’ helmet, Fernando clocked up 93 laps at the Bahrain Grand Prix venue, in what was a positive day of hard graft and good mileage for the 39-year-old from Oviedo.
Alonso’s sabbatical began after the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – since then he has gone on to win Le Mans twice, two WEC titles, also winning the Daytona 24-Hours and competing in the Dakar Rally – and he will return for the season opener in Melbourne next year.
That Sunday he will start his 312th Grand Prix and will be looking to add not only to his two world titles but also to his 32 victories and 97 podiums. And, amid a strong resurgent season for Renault, it is no surprise that Fernando is fully fired up for the next chapter of his stellar career.
After his first of two days in the cockpit, he Tweeted: “It was love at first sight.”