In what quickly became one of the worst kept secret in recent time, Fernando Alonso is back in Formula 1 after having waved farewell twenty months earlier.
The Spaniard has been confirmed to partner Esteban Ocon with Renault in 2021, becoming the first driver in history to race three separate stints with a single Formula 1 team.
Alonso claimed his only world titles with the French marque in 2005 and 2006 before making a two-year return to the team in 2008 following a devasting fallout with ex-McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Renault have not revealed the length of the deal, but it is believed to run for two seasons meaning Alonso will likely be with the team as the sport enters its new generation of racing in 2022.
With the departure of their star signing Daniel Ricciardo earlier in the year, Renault have once again targeted big, with the Alonso deal an incredibly bold move.
Rather than take on one of the team’s many aspiring junior drivers in F2 and F3, Renault have rekindled their faith in the 38-year-old despite him being renown to walk away from challenges should they come insurmountable.
Renault fell to fifth in the constructor standings last year and 2020 once again has suggested the team is no longer kings of the midfield, with both McLaren and Racing Point seemingly grappling those reins.
Whether Renault will turn their competitiveness around for Alonso’s return remains to be answered but his recommitment to F1 will most definitely mingle well with its most die-hard supporters.
“The signing of Fernando Alonso is part of Groupe Renault’s plan to continue its commitment to F1 and to return to the top of the field,” said Renault team Principle Cyril Abiteboul. “His presence in our team is a formidable asset on the sporting level but also for the brand to which he is very attached.
“The strength of the bond between him, the team and the fans make him a natural choice. In addition to past successes, it is a bold mutual choice as well as a project for the future. His experience and determination will enable us to get the best out of each other to take the team towards the excellence that modern Formula 1 demands.
“Alongside Esteban, his mission will be to help Renault DP World F1 Team prepare for the 2022 season in the best possible conditions.”
Alonso will have his third crack at the Indy 500 later this year in a full McLaren entry in an attempt to finally etch himself into the record books of becoming only the second ever driver to achieve the ‘Triple Crown.’
But Alonso admits across his two year sabbatical from the sport and his ventures into Oval racing, Endurance and rallying, it is Formula 1 where his heart truly lies.
“Renault is my family, my fondest memories in Formula 1 with my two World Championship titles, but I’m now looking ahead,” said Alonso. “It’s a great source of pride and with an immense emotion I’m returning to the team that gave me my chance at the start of my career and which now gives me the opportunity to return to the highest level.
“I have principles and ambitions in line with the team’s project. Their progress this winter gives credibility to the objectives for the 2022 season and I will share all my racing experience with everyone from the engineers to the mechanics and my team-mates. The team wants and has the means to get back on the podium, as do I.”