Fernando Alonso is playing down the significance and benefits of his inclusion in this year’s season-ending Formula 1 Young Driver Test at Yas Marina Circuit starting on Tuesday.
The most talked-about comeback in recent F1 history has been happening since it was announced Fernando would be back at Renault aka Alpine in 2021, for another crack at the sport he walked away from in disgust, back in 2018.
Since then he has won Le Mans 24 Hours twice, the Daytona 24-Hours and the WEC title with Toyota Gazoo Racing among a myriad of racing adventures that kept him busy. But we and, most of all, he knew there was unfinished business in the top flight. Now Spaniard is back in the top flight.
Already with substantial mileage in older F1 cars, Fernando is thoroughly prepared for his second chapter. Furthermore, somehow, he has convinced the FIA that at 39 he is a ‘young driver’ needing track time.
Kindly, the FIA have allowed him as well as Robert Kubica and Sebastien Buemi, neither spring chickens, to do duty during this week’s test.
Fernando’s inclusion riled some in the paddock who suggested he is getting an advantage ahead of the new season and the test, technically, is not for drivers of his experience let alone age.
Furthermore, McLaren, Ferrari and Aston Martin were denied, by the FIA, to run their 2020 drivers during the test. All three teams welcome ‘new’ drivers to their teams.
But, in spite of the moans, there was no action, Fernando will be doing miles in this year’s car, in what is Renault’s final F1 test, after their 400th and final Grand Prix before they are rebranded to Alpine for next year’s campaign.
In Abu Dhabi, prepping for his outing this week, Fernando is aware of the furore and chose to play it down when he told reporters, “I know the media have talked a lot about the story.
“Certainly every kilometre is important but in terms of driving, I’ve been ready since 2018 and one more or less day does not make a difference in terms of preparation.
“I don’t know what we could do next year with this car, this test is therefore more useful for me to feel comfortable within the team, at most for the seat position or things here and there.”
Fernando thrilled the lucky few at Yas Marina Circuit this weekend with three runs in the shrieking Renault RS25 with which he claimed his first title back in 2005. A glorious sound that even had Lewis Hamilton grinning from ear-to-ear as he was deafened during an interview in the pit garage as his former teammate screeched past during a demo run during the course of the weekend..
But Fernando sees no value in that run, “Let’s say that the test with the 2005 Renault was not very indicative in this respect, everything is different.
“But it was very useful for me to drive the 2018 Renault,” conceded the Spaniard with reference to the Renault RS18 he tested recently.
Fernando replaces McLaren-bound Daniel Ricciardo, joining Esteban Ocon in the Alpine pit garage for a new F1 chapter for the team and their illustrious driver who is unlikely to be out of the headlines during his second coming.