It's been nearly two years since Fernando Alonso retired from Formula 1. During his time away, he's won the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice and clinched the World Endurance Championship title. He even entered the grueling Dakar rally and finished it. But it seems that the lure of Formula 1 is too strong for the Spaniard.
Now, the two-time champion has made it official. Fernando Alonso will return to the sport in 2021 with Renault. With Daniel Ricciardo moving to McLaren next season, the second seat in Renault has been made vacant, allowing Alonso to fill it in. It will be his third stint for the French automaker and he will be paired with Esteban Ocon next year.
Alonso has long been associated with Renault. While he started his Formula 1 career with Minardi, he was picked up by Benetton Renault where he got both of his titles. He stuck with Renault until 2006 and moved to McLaren in 2007. After just a year with the British team, he went back to the French squad in 2008 and stayed there until 2009. After that, he ran with Ferrari from 2010 to 2014 and from 2015 to 2018, raced with McLaren, who ran Renault engines later on.
At the moment, the terms of his contract had not been made public just yet. However, rumors are circulating that he will have a multi-year deal with Renault, which means he could hang around until his '40s. Alonso will be 39 years old when the 2021 season kicks off and turn 40 come July. Once he gets on board the Renault next year, he will be the second-oldest driver on the grid. Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen will be the eldest by that time, aged 41.
With Alonso coming back to Formula 1, does this mean Renault can clinch their first podium in years? Ever since Renault returned to the series as a constructor in 2016, they have yet to finish in the top three even after various drivers had joined the team. Perhaps Alonso's input will help them get that elusive podium and win by next year or the year after that.
With that, Alonso is now part of a list of drivers who staged a comeback in the sport. Some of these drivers include Michael Schumacher, Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen, and Robert Kubica. Kubica will even be testing the new Alfa Romeo this coming weekend at the Styrian Grand Prix which will be held at the Red Bull Ring.
So far, the Formula 1 “silly season” has had several surprises. It started with Ferrari announcing that they no longer need Sebastian Vettel's services by the end of 2020. That was then followed up by Ricciardo leaving Renault by the end of the year and moving to McLaren. Carlos Sainz Jr. will then move from McLaren to Ferrari by next year.