Formula One has welcomed the return of Fernando Alonso after the two-time world champion signed a deal to drive for Renault in 2021.
Alonso has been out of F1 since he left McLaren at the end of 2018 but is still regarded as a hugely talented driver who commands attention across the globe. The Spaniard has agreed a two-year contract for his third stint with the French team.
Alonso, who will be 39 this month, won the drivers’ championship with Renault in 2005 and 2006. He first drove for the team in 2003, his second season in F1, and won his first grand prix at Hungary that year. He left the sport after becoming disillusioned with an uncompetitive car at McLaren and frustrated by the dominance of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari.
Renault remain a midfield team but are targeting being in the title fight when new regulations and a budget cap are imposed in 2022. “Renault is my family, my fondest memories in Formula 1 with my two world championship titles, but I’m now looking ahead,” Alonso said.
“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 teammates. The team wants and has the means to get back on the podium, as do I.”
Formula One’s chief executive, Chase Carey, has long been a supporter of Alonso, aware of what a draw he is for fans. He was fulsome in welcoming the driver back.
“It’s great news that two-time world champion, Fernando Alonso, will return to Formula One with Renault next year,” he said. “He is an incredible talent and we can’t wait to have him back on the grid in 2021.”
Alonso will replace Daniel Ricciardo, who joins McLaren at the end of this season, and will partner Esteban Ocon. Renault believe their signing is indicative of their ambition.
“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 Cyril Abiteboul, their managing director. “The strength of the bond between him, the team and the fans make him a natural choice.”