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Formula 1

The small clues from Alonso’s first Renault test

by Matt Beer
4 min read

Fernando Alonso says Renault’s 2020 Formula 1 car was “outperforming me” in his first test with the team as he outlined areas of focus for his comeback preparations.

Two-time world champion Alonso is rejoining Renault for a third stint after winning his titles with the first generation of the team in 2005 and 2006, then rejoining it for 2008 and 2009 after a single season at McLaren.

Alonso drove the Renault R.S.20 at Barcelona on Tuesday, his first on-track run since agreeing a deal for his comeback next year.

As it was a filming day he was limited to 100km of running on demonstration tyres but Alonso gave several hints of where his short-term and long-term focuses are to make sure he is ready for 2021 after two seasons out of F1.

“The car is outperforming me at the moment,” Alonso said.

“I cannot extract the maximum from the car because getting back to F1 speed is not easy.

“I was improving lap after lap, trying to give feedback to the engineers.

“We had some filming to do so there were cameras and drones following on track. It was half-pleasure, half-work today.

“The car has potential. We see it every weekend. But there’s still some room to improve as we know and we’ll try to do it in the short-term.”

Alonso said that the last three cars he has driven “cannot be more separated” after his F1 test return following a third attempt at winning the Indianapolis 500 in August and his Dakar Rally debut earlier this year.

Fernando Alonso Renault F1 2020

He said he was still “missing a bit” in references like braking points and cornering speed and admitted “there are many things I need to get used to again”, but expects that to “take a shorter period of time than getting used to a completely new thing like Dakar or Indy”.

When his comeback announced Alonso said he was in the best physical condition of his life and he said his neck held up to the limited running he completed on Tuesday, though joked “I will tell you tomorrow – maybe a bit of pain!”.

He also outlined several areas he hopes to make strides with the team in the coming months.

“There are many things to get ready,” he said. “First will be the fitness, you have to be back in shape, to train for F1 standards.

“The neck and the upper body will need to be reinforced in the next couple of months.

“But so far it has been good. I know I need to keep working.

“Preparations in terms of comfort, seat fitting, the steering wheel, pedal position, there are many things we need to go through.

“And also with the engineers try to have a good relationship, a good connection that we understand each other just looking at each other.

“All those kind of things we need a bit of time, but we are using this last part of 2020 and the winter of next year to build momentum.”

Fernando Alonso Renault F1 2020

Away from the track, Alonso has visited Renault’s Enstone and Viry facilities and driven the 2020 car on the simulator.

He has also been given equipment by Renault so he can immerse himself in race weekends from home.

“I have a nice set-up, a computer the team gave me a couple of weeks so I can follow their onboard cameras, the radio communications from the team and the debrief, the strategy meetings,” said Alonso.

“I know what’s happening every weekend. The results are getting better and better. The podium was very deserved for the hard work.

“Today was a good opportunity to feel the R.S.20 in my hands.”

Renault has developed its 2020 car strongly and is one of the form teams in F1, having outscored all except Mercedes in the last five grands prix.

The R.S.20 appears to be the third-fastest car on the grid and Daniel Ricciardo’s podium at the Nurburgring – Renault’s first since its works team returned in 2016 – capped an impressive run of results.

Alonso had initially encouraged the team to put more focus on the new technical rules for 2022 instead but believes Renault has “all the ingredients to do a good 2021” as well.


“We all have high hopes inside the team looking at how the team progressed in the championship and the positions on the weekends,” he said.

“We have to have our feet on the ground knowing the regulations will be more or less the same until 2022 so we know the deficit all the midfield teams have now will carry on next year.

“So, feet on the ground, but a lot of positive energy and optimism for next year.”

Alonso also dropped a teaser that his return to Renault will coincide with a nod to his first, championship-winning stint with the team in the form of a “very different” crash helmet design.

“You will have to look back 14 years, 15 years,” he said. “And that will be the inspiration.”

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