Double world champion Fernando Alonso is coming back to Formula 1 by signing a new deal with Renault.
The Spaniard, who won his only world titles for the French squad in 2005 and 2006, last raced in Formula 1 at the end of 2018 season when he decided that the sport was no longer an attractive option for him.
Alonso will take over the pace of Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who has signed to join McLaren as replacement for the Ferrari-bound Carlos Sainz Jr.
Renault did not confirm the exact length of Alonso’s deal beyond saying that it is ‘for the upcoming seasons’. Alonso has talked about having high ambitions for the 2022 season, when the sport embarks on a new regulations era.
His return to Renault will be his third outing at the team. He originally joined the outfit as a test driver in 2002, before being promoted to a race seat the following year.
Alonso won his first race for the team in the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix and was the main figurehead to its most successful campaigns in 2005 and 2006.
Following his championship wins, Alonso quit to join McLaren in 2007 but his relationship there turned sour especially with Ron Dennis and he returned to Renault for the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
Although he won races, including that controversial one at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix when teammate Nelson Piquet Jr deliberately crashed, the team could not deliver the title he was after.
Alonso subsequently moved to Scuderia Ferrari from 2010 to 2014 – unable to win titles there, before making a return to McLaren from 2015.
But his switch to McLaren failed to produce the kind of results he hoped for as he endured two difficult years with Honda power unit prior to a final frustrating campaign with Renault engines as McLaren’s car did not live up to expectations.
By the end of 2018, Alonso had grown tired of the demands of Formula 1 and a lack of good results, but his time away from it since then has given him new motivation to have one last assault.
His long-time manager Flavio Briatore said earlier this year that Alonso had been ‘detoxed’ by being away from the sport for a while.
Since leaving Formula 1, Alonso has won the FIA World Endurance Championship for Toyota – including back-to-back victories at the Le Mans 24 Hours – and earlier this year competed in the Dakar Rally for the Japanese manufacturer.
He has also tried to win the Indianapolis 500 race, but failed to qualify last year although is having another attempt later this season.
So welcome back Fernando Alonso. His ‘goodbye’ from Formula 1 after the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was just temporary as the double title winner is back. Best wishes with Renault in 2021 champ.