Two-time champion Fernando Alonso is “motivated” for a return to Formula 1, according to manager Flavio Briatore, amid speculation linking Alonso to the vacant Renault seat for 2021.
Alonso bowed out grand prix racing at the end of 2019, but had left the door open for a return, albeit stipulating that top machinery would be a likely prerequisite.
Renault now has a empty seat for 2021 alongside Esteban Ocon following Daniel Ricciardo’s decision to sign with McLaren, which came swiftly after its current driver Carlos Sainz agreed a deal to replace Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari.
Though Renault has not publicly commented on the process for finding a replacement for Ricciardo, the prospect of Alonso returning to the French manufacturer for a third F1 stint has been heavily discussed in media and among F1 personalities.
And the suggestions of an Alonso-Renault reunion to 2021 have now been lent further credibility by the comments of Briatore, who heads Alonso’s management team.
“Fernando is motivated, one year out of F1 has done him good, he has detoxed himself, I see him more serene and he is ready to return,” Briatore told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“We are watching what is happening, let’s not forget that there is still a championship to be run. At least we hope there is.”
Briatore, however, did not comment on the possibility of Alonso returning to Renault directly, and when asked whether the out-of-contract Vettel could rival Alonso for the deal with the French manufacturer, he said: “It’s early. As I said, let’s see how this championship goes.”
Briatore said he was “a little surprised” by the timing of Ferrari’s decision regarding Vettel, but reckoned it showed Ferrari “is betting everything on Leclerc”, who “is predestined for the role”.
Asked whether Vettel could find himself at Mercedes, Briatore said: “I don’t believe it, it’s the same [situation] as Ferrari.
“They [Mercedes] have Hamilton, who is very happy with Bottas as his team-mate, so would it make any sense to change?”