Alonso tested Renault’s 2020 car on Tuesday ahead of F1 comeback
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 14/10/20 2:55pm
Renault say incoming two-time F1 world champion Fernando Alonso is “excited” about the team’s prospects for 2021 after their recent upturn in form, with the Spaniard also sure they can be a force on the grid.
The French outfit ended a near decade-long wait for a podium in Sunday’s Eifel GP as Daniel Ricciardo finished third – the latest strong result in a 2020 campaign – and their new-found momentum comes at an ideal time, with Alonso rejoining the team next season after 10 years away.
Eyebrows were raised when Alonso signed and the driver himself admitted that he was mainly targeting the next big rules change in 2022, but he may well be challenging towards the front earlier than expected.
“I think he wasn’t expecting that much initially for 2021,” team boss Cyril Abiteboul told Sky F1. “But the more things are progressing through this season and improving, I think he is excited.
“But we’re still trying to manage expectations between ’21 and ’22.”
Alonso, last on the grid with McLaren in 2018, stepped up his F1 comeback on Tuesday by testing Renault’s 2020 car – which he described as “amazing”. And he has understandably been keeping a keen eye on their progress.
“I watch every race,” Alonso, who won his two titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006, said. “I’m in the weekend even from a distance. I follow every lap. The podium was very well deserved, finally. I’m so happy for everyone.”
He added: “I know what the team is capable of and I know the prospects for the future are good. The podium is a thing that had to happen. Most important thing is to follow the trend that we see now, keep the momentum into next year, especially for 2022, and I think we know how to do it.”
Ricciardo is currently fourth in the drivers’ standings for Renault, behind only Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen, while the team are currently fifth but only six points off third-placed Racing Point.