The innate driver resting inside the 2-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso never decided to quit the steering wheel which was the reason why he opted to make a comeback with Renault ahead of the upcoming season after bidding farewell to the sport.
“I think life is sort of taking the decisions that you feel in that moment. And you have to be brave and you have to commit to something. And that moves you in everyday life,” said Alonso while giving an interview to Amanda Davies at CNN Sports.
“I love having the steering wheel in my hands. You know, every weekend I’m driving something… go karts, rally car buggies,” he added.
A nostalgic and loyal Alonso is expected to repeat his past glory with Renault as he won 2005 and 2006 Championship titles with the team.
“The target is a third world championship,” added a bullish Alonso. Yes. I think everyone that starts a championship has, you know, some wishes and some internal fire of winning and some motivation.”
The veteran driver who will turn 39 later this month has made 314 grand prix starts in his Formula 1 career, registering 32 wins and 97 podiums which combined place him in the 6th on the all-time list across three teams Ferrari, Renault and McLaren. The Spaniard with his return will become the first driver to have 3 separate stints with single Formula 1 team, i.e., from 2003-2006, 2008-2009 and from 20121 onwards.
While Renault did not confirm the timeframe of the deal, the driver is in a good mode to start a new chapter in his impressive career.
Though he has a realization about his return being not so much a curtain call but he also feels that new regulations – originally planned for 2021 and delayed until 2022 – will certainly help him in performance and being competitive once again on the tracks.
The ageless Alonso is replacing Daniel Ricciardo who is switching to McLaren – the franchise former left in 2018 – will now partner with the emerging talent on the grid, 23-year-old Esteban Ocon. The youngster recorded an 8th place finish in his maiden race of 2020 season in Austria.
“Obviously, it’s a very happy day,” commented the 38-year-old maestro on his return.
“When I left Formula One, I felt that it could be a possibility to come back in 2021… I’ve been able to breathe a little bit out of F1 because I’ve got 18 consecutive Formula One seasons, which are quite demanding. I think I needed that time out and I come back now stronger than ever.”
He has clinched the Le Mans 24 Hours for a second time showing no signs of rust, contradicting the critiques who thought he was spending him time away from the grueling sport. The Spaniard also cemented victory at WEC World Championship, made a good attempt to conquer the Indianapolis 500 rally and even managed a 13th place finish in the famed Dakar Rally. The driver plans to once again compete in the legendary Indy 500 for a 3rd time in his career in August 2020. His hunger to emulate his own past performances and remain competitive on the circuit look undiminished.
“I hate losing,” he said with a big smile on his face. “I love winning. But, you know, I don’t’ like to lose at anything, and it would be hard. Especially in 2021. We know where the car is at now. We know the performance next year is a little bit of carryover form this year. So, I am aware that we will have to work a lot and we will have to slowly improve the car. But, you know, I am ready to take that challenge as well.”
After considering all commercial and career considerations, his Romance with Renault, which according to him feeds him with fondest memories in Formula 1, also look unblemished.
“Romanticism is a big factor on this type of decision,” he said. “Coming back to Renault is a plus for me, because I know the people in the team, I know a lot of members that were on my time a couple of years ago. And also, the commitment that Renault made about Formula One and the future that the team has now, I think it was important.”
Nobody knows what is ahead for the resilient racing supremo but it looks motorsport still owes him some laps, races and may be a promising return to the circuit.
“I think 10, 12 years,” he replied jokingly but then quickly added: “Let’s see. Look, when I was 25 or 28, I thought maybe 3 or 4 more years in F1 will be enough. But now at 38 for whatever reason, I develop more skills, I was driving in different cars, different categories, learning different styles. I said before, I feel fresh now, ready for travelling, ready for doing different things, work on the simulator. So, I feel better now than when I was 25. So, I cannot tell now that there is only two or three years more in me. You know, maybe there are more.”