Fernando Alonso joins the Renault Formula One Team for the third time as the F1 silly season takes yet another turn.
The news follows a domino train of events, started by Ferrari dropping Sebastian Vettel for the 2021 season. As Carlos Sainz moved to fill his seat, Daniel Ricciardo made the switch to McLaren, leaving a vacancy at Renault. Many drivers were speculated to fill the seat and it was assumed that the most likely candidates would be from Renault’s Formula One Academy. However, the nearest candidates seem perhaps too inexperienced for a call up to the pinnacle of Motorsport. Guanyu Zhou and Christian Lundgaard are both competing in Formula 2, but are yet to take a victory between them. This left a slim group to choose from, but there was one name speculated from the very beginning.
It was announced on the 8th July that Fernando Alonso will return to the team that gave him his back-to-back World Championships. Alonso will be raring to go and the 38 year old has kept himself in fine trim since his previous F1 race. During this time, he impressively achieved the WEC title, a second Le Mans 24h victory and even participated at the gruelling Dakar Rally. There was also the failed 2nd attempt of the Indy 500, which fell apart due to incompetence at the McLaren Indycar outfit.
In F1, Alonso will be looking to add to the 32 race wins and 97 podiums that he amassed over 314 races. Alonso’s return marks the first time that an F1 driver has returned to the same team for a third separate occasion and clearly, the Spaniard is looking to make amends after a tedious tenure at McLaren. However, the opportunities that Renault present may not reap the success that the 2 time World Champion is expecting. Having lost their star driver before a single session of 2020 had taken place potentially speaks volumes, not only at the performance of the car, but the atmosphere inside the team. This has been exacerbated further as McLaren have taken 2 podiums in the last 3 races under Renault power. Renault, however, have not earned a single podium since their return as a constructor in 2016.
This leads the question, why have Renault chosen Alonso? It is a move that has 2022 firmly in mind. Alonso will bring a wealth of knowledge to the team, and Renault themselves have mentioned how the Spaniard will bring with him a ‘culture of winning’. However, the team are taking a huge risk. It is certain his price tag will be astronomically high and he may become volatile if the car doesn’t perform. Furthermore, if Renault can’t find success with one of the highest rated drivers of all time, why would they continue to waste millions in this sport? The headlines are about Alonso, but this may be the make or break scenario that decides Renault’s future in Formula One.
Feature Image Credit: Indycar.com