Double world champion Fernando Alonso is set to make a comeback to Formula 1 with Renault in 2021 with an official announcement expected as early as tonight.
Renault have been on the search for a new driver to partner Esteban Ocon next season after Daniel Ricciardo inked a deal with McLaren during the coronavirus-induced season suspension period in a game of musical chairs which saw Carlos Sainz move to Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel become a free agent.
According to Sky Sports F1 pundits, Alonso is now primed to rejoin the French outfit for a third stint which included claiming two world titles in 2005-2006.
Back in February, Alonso told Sky Sports that he would decide on any F1 return during the summer.
The Spaniard walked away from the sport following tumultuous four year period with McLaren which included the turbulent Honda era.
He has failed to finish on the podium in a Grand Prix since 2013 in his swansong season with Ferrari.
Alonso has since kept himself occupied with multiple attempts to become only the second-ever driver after Graham Hill to claim the illustrious Triple Crown which compromises of victories at the Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500 and 24 Hours of Le Mans. Alonso only needs a victory at Indy to achieve this feat and will make his third attempt with Arrow McLaren SP later this year.
Over the Austrian Grand Prix weekend, Renault did confirm they are enticing the interest of ‘a big name’ to sign for the squad in 2021. Realistically the only two drivers being Alonso or Vettel.
However, Vettel has bluntly declared he will not sign a contract with any team he believes will not be established front runners within a couple of years of joining. A proud world champion, there is no reason why Vettel cannot retire from the sport entirely at the end of the season.
“It’s good news that Renault are looking forward because we’re concerned about any teams that might be thinking about leaving Formula 1,” said Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle. “So that’s very good news.
“Fernando Alonso picks a car up and carries it, and so is very exciting to watch. He does turn 39 on the 29th of this month and we’ve got a lot of young kids in there at the moment in their early 20s getting the job done. We thought there was a changing of the guard, and we were losing the older drivers.
“He will certainly drive the wheels off it, but whether the car is fast enough and whether he’s still got the pace to match the youngsters now remains to be seen. But I suspect he’ll have the pace.
“Fernando is pretty hot to handle, he’s a tough cookie to have around, but I think he’ll come back highly motivated and it’s going to be fascinating.”