Fernando Alonso, Toyota, Dakar Rally, 2020

Renault expected to announce Alonso’s return for 2021 season

2021 F1 season

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Fernando Alonso is expected to make his comeback to Formula 1 with Renault in 2021.

RaceFans understands the team could announce the two-times world champion’s return as early as tomorrow. It will be his third spell with the team, having driven for them between 2003 and 2006 and again from 2008 to 2009.

Alonso retired from F1 at the end of 2018. He will return in place of Daniel Ricciardo, who is leaving Renault to join McLaren next season, and partner Esteban Ocon at the team.

The 38-year-old enjoyed the most successful period of his F1 career with Renault. He first raced for the team in 2003 and two years later scored his first of two back-to-back championship titles with the team. He had won 15 races for them by the time he left to join McLaren at the end of 2006.

His first spell at McLaren ended in an acrimonious split after just one season, following which Alonso returned to Renault in 2008. He won twice more – albeit in controversial circumstances in Singapore – before leaving again to join Ferrari.

Despite coming close to winning the title on two occasions with Ferrari, after which he returned to McLaren for four more seasons, Alonso is still seeking a third F1 title. He has recently branched into other series in pursuit of the ‘Triple Crown’ of the Monaco Grand Prix, which he has won twice, Le Mans 24 Hours, which he has won in the past two years, and Indianapolis 500, which he led on his debut in 2017 before retiring.

Alonso’s last F1 appearance was at the wheel of a McLaren-Renault in a test session at the Bahrain International Circuit last year.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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148 comments on “Renault expected to announce Alonso’s return for 2021 season”

  1. As an Alonso fan, no please no.

    1. Maybe to see if Renault will be competitive in 2022?

      1. Probably also given the budget cap and development freeze banking on top-3 dont pull ahead even more.

    2. DAllein (@)
      7th July 2020, 17:01

      As never a fan – also please no!

    3. why? I don’t even care if he wins – just great to have him back

      1. Politically he can probably do least damage at Renault, apart from GP2, GP2!

        1. Ahaha, indeed, gp2 engine, gp2 chassis! And he would be right!

    4. I’m happy. I think he’s one of the greatest and he’s still performing well. Not having him in F1 was weird. It’s sad he put himself in a position in which a competitive car isn’t on the cards, but not seeing him push a car to the limits and beyond was a shame, frankly.

      1. Absolutely! But I hope that at least this time he’s in the right car at the right time.

    5. I give it three races before we get more top tier radio rants about the uncompetitive machinery.

      1. 2 races…

        And a split and diveded team on top of that.

    6. Fear not its probably just a yoke. A yoke i tell you

    7. I agree.

      Just to see him in an F1 car adds a lot to the sport, but seeing him fighting for scraps in poor machinery is just a waste of talent, time and expectations.

  2. Hope he is still competitive and Renault produces a Top 3 car soon.

    1. I see that it appears to be a two year deal. I don’t understand Renault’s intentions with him because 2021 will be using this year’s chassis, and Mercedes and Red Bull will be most likely occupying the top 4 spots. Do they want to give him one year for “warm up”, and then challenge in 2022? When the regulations change?

      He better beat Ocon by the same margin he beat Vandoorne.

      1. What a misjudgement agasin by Abiteboul. Alonso is not going to give a … about Renault nor Ocon. Toxicity is what they’ll get. No other team than Renault would do this, not even Ferrari

    2. I think it’s 3 years through 2023

  3. No, please no. Such a good vibes with F1 finally back on and racing has been excellent so far. This would totally kill the positive flow.

    1. What the hell are you talking about?

      1. @carbon_fibre he seems to have a grudge against Alonso because Alonso managed to beat Kimi when they were paired together at Ferrari, and that poster is a particularly hardcore Kimi fan.

      2. He talks about Alonso. The biggest whiner and complainer in the sport.

        1. @jens And which sport does Grosjean participate in?

          1. Gavin Campbell
            8th July 2020, 9:29

            Ahahaha top comment *claps*

            As much as I have a soft spot for Gross jean, he don’t half go on a bit. Half the time I feel his engineer is about to shout back “Well if you think you can do a better job designing one of these things”.

    2. Are you serious alonso is one of the best drivers of all time. The guy dominated kimi as teammates and deserves a seat, especially since you have drivers like grosjean and stroll in f1

  4. Why? Why a Renault ?

    No no please I can’t wait for the deckchairs.

    1. Alonso and Abiteboul. If there comes a result out of that co-operation it will be the most incredible thing I have ever seen. Two absolute nutters in one team. Top entertainment. Liberty must be loving this.

  5. There’s so much talent within the Renault young driver program, in 2021 where the rules are frozen why don’t they promote Guanyu Zhou? There’s a good chance he’ll get a super license this year, stick him in some fp1’s and you basically have a free rookie year for him.

    1. Because Guanyu Zhou is still too green and needs a bit more time fine tuning his racing skills based on watching his F2 racing. Yes, he has been showing very good potential but definitely is one of the most position erratic drivers in the front group; its not very bankable at the moment. He really needs to improve on that before they’ll let him race in a F1 car. After him, there’s really not much following him in terms of being hot F1 potential when looking at it for the next three-four seasons.
      Ocon is still pretty much a rookie after being put to pasture needing to first prove his abilities, He’s never seen a podium and can not be considered a team leader driver for a manufactures F1 team. They have a huge gap to fill next year and had to act fast and sign someone up, Vettel was never going to do it. Guanyu Zhou & Ocon is not a good pairing right now.

      Now they just have to remove Cyril Abiteboul. Can you imagine those in the paddock conversing when things don’t go well. Only one prima-donna at a time please.

      1. I always got the impression that Ocon was beating Checo, who kept his seat for two commercial reasons.

        1. Impression were misleading in this case, Checo is a old cunning fox which pays off in the end. Ocon was too green and too aggressive against his teammate and we all know what that does.

  6. Well BBC reported it an hour ago, it’s official.

    1. ColdFly (@)
      7th July 2020, 17:06

      as a rumour!

      Official announcements tend to come from the parties involved.

      1. Thanks for putting me straight. Tell me again where I said they announced it?

        1. @johnnik – You directly implied that with the wording ”it’s official.”
          @coldfly – Indeed.

        2. ColdFly (@)
          7th July 2020, 17:29

          Tell me again where I said they announced it?

          I did not ‘tell you’ the first time, and see no reason to tell you again. :P

          However, I did take from your comment that you assumed it was announced by the BBC, and as you’re thanking me I take it that I was correct.
          But maybe your sarcasm is even more obscure than mine.

  7. Only my opinion, but to me, F1 should be about young, driven, hungry talent.

    Imagine McLaren bringing Mika out of retirement in 2007… we’d have been denied the emergence of Lewis Hamilton.

    Alonso’s return ends the dream for someone in GP2 with the talent and ambition to drive that team forward. He has been a great champion, one of the best of all time in pure driving brilliance, but his time has passed, and life moves on.

    1. Couldn’t agree more. There’s a lot of talented dudes in F2, id rather see them in the car than a guy out of his prime in a sub standard car

    2. Well said!

      This just showes the problem with the 20-car grid. Even if the Alonso-Renault move made some sense and marketingwise it does, it’s a shame we don’t have 2-3 more teams even as backmackers, so that young talented drivers get a shot until a bigger team picks them. Manor/Marussia gave Bianchi & Ocon their first chances as did HRT for Ricciardo. Even if these teams were mostly filled with pay or “way experienced” drivers like Petrov or Trulli, at least those drivers didn’t fill a seat at a bigger team, like Stroll or Ericsson do/did in the recent history…

      1. couldn’t care less – one less anodyne and robotic sim racer – Alonso is an all time great. Chill out

        1. Nelson Piquet is an all time great, but i wouldn’t want him to get the second Ferrari seat instead of Sainz.

          one less anodyne and robotic sim racer

          Yeah…these kids Leclerc, Verstappen, Albon, Norris, Sainz, Russell are so boring! Everyone agress they should just move to sim racing full time. F1 is doomed with them…

      2. Well, the problem is, even when we had those extra two or three teams, they filled up their cars with three categories of drivers: 1) Experienced midfielder who had no future in a better team (Glock, Kovalainen, Trulli), 2) Driver who was compensating for the poor financing of the given team (Bruno Senna, Karthikeyan, Merhi, Chilton etc.), and 3) Really talented guys, as you’ve already mentioned. These teams are often so underfinanced that you cannot expect them to nurture all the young talent that is here. I don’t expect any change until say 2026 or 2027 when the rules will be finally stabilized, new powertrains will hopefully make the things more simpy and the budget cap will yield its fruits. Let’s rather hope we won’t lose two or three of the current teams in the meantime.

        1. @pironitheprovocateur I’m not saying that if we had teams like Manor, Caterham or HRT right now they would fill their cars with talented young drivers every year. But every once in a while, a big team wanted to give a shot to a young driver of their academy and these teams made that possible. And we’re talking for the last, dark ‘Bernie’ years, only one of these 3 teams could finish 10th just so they can get a very small slice of the prize money, the other two got nothing. However imagine if we got the salary cap and the prize money sorted, what teams like Manor could do in the near future hopefully…

          Ferrari could easily give Mick Schumacher a chance there and leave Sauber free to hire 2 drivers of their choosing instead of one plus a Ferrari-bound driver, Renault could hire Alonso for the big team and also give a shot to a young driver they have invested in one of the backmakers. Even some older drivers could have a second shot, Hulkenberg could drive for a year at one of those teams and see if another better offers him a drive next year, Sirotkin could have a second chance…

          Let’s rather hope we won’t lose two or three of the current teams in the meantime.

          Sad, but true at the moment. We can only hope the situation changes for the better.

    3. StephenH, you say that, but would a hypothetical Alonso return actually make a material difference to the odds of a Formula 2 driver to enter F1 via Renault? Realistically, I don’t think that it does actually make that much difference given how most drivers are now bound to young driver training programmes organised by different teams.

      If you look at the list of drivers who have gone from GP2 or Formula 2 into Formula 1, you have George Russell (2018), Charles Leclerc (2017), Pierre Gasly (2016) and Stoffel Vandoorne (2015) were all part of a young driver programme.

      Going further back, you have Hamilton and Rosberg as drivers who were also supported by a team (Rosberg was being supported by Williams in his 2005 campaign), whilst Grosjean was an ex-Renault junior driver when he won his title (he’d left Renault in 2009, but had been supported by them from 2006-2009) and Hulkenberg was employed by Williams when he won his title (he’d been their test driver since 2007).

      You could argue that there have basically only been two independent drivers who won the GP2 title and then went on into F1 – Maldonado (2010) and Palmer (2014).

      If Renault were to want to promote anybody from Formula 2, it would be Zhou – because Zhou is part of their driver academy. That is the real issue here – it’s not that Alonso is denying a driver from a junior series, it’s that most drivers are now so tightly yoked to a junior team programme that they are basically bound to enter F1 for that team only.

    4. Definitely agree.

    5. So you think Hamilton should pack it in?

      1. Yes PLEASE

    6. Hmmm….that looks remarkably like a verbatim copy of a Jake Humphries tweet (posted today at 16:50 GMT).

    7. Kind of agree, but we seem to forget , F1 is a manufacturers championship (Best car wins – almost every time), they are looking for drivers that can help them with that goal.
      Drivers championship is secondary and consequential. If it was a drivers championship they would all be in matching cars.

  8. DAllein (@)
    7th July 2020, 17:00


    There are literally dozens out their who will be better, will not moan constantly, and actually be a positive force in a Team…

    1. @dallein Such as who? Zhou? Not good enough yet and not enough experience. Hulkenberg? Decent driver but not on Alonso’s level. Who are these dozens that you speak of? Say what you will, nobody will get more out of that car than Alonso. Right now, Renault just needs to finish 4th in the constructors.

    2. Absolutely. They already have a toxic dude in Abiteboul. If you add an Alonso to that…. my oh my.. this team is the epiphanie of failure. Can’t wait to see Abitebouls face get more and more defensive, mad and arrogant at the same time.

      1. and I haven’t even mentioned Ocon in this mix hahahaha. Her ticks all the boxes too

  9. Am i in the minority that’s not excited about this. A guy out of his prime in a midfield car isn’t what I really want to see. Id rather see a talented up and comer take that seat

    1. Alonso is still in his prime, that’s why he’s so good.

      1. @carbon_fibre Agree 100% Looking forward to how he drives the socks off the Renault.

        1. agreed is it not about have the best drivers on the Grid no matter what the age or History

          1. ColdFly (@)
            7th July 2020, 19:35

            That’s the spirit!
            Like him or loathe him, few will argue he doesn’t belong to the 20 best.

          2. I’m stoked over this news. I think this is great for F1, he’s a great driver, and a great character, and it is going to be great to see him in a 2022 driver-vs-driver F1. I don’t think any of us have any illusions about how much work Renault has ahead of them, so obviously he is going into this eyes wide open, and I think we’ll see some super exciting races from him in a 2022 car that I predict will see him with some podiums even in a 5th/6th place car. As for next year, he’ll be handcuffed by the car. But 2022? Yeah can’t wait to see him then. Even in a mid car. I think he’s going to have a blast and that will translate to some fun times to come. Really stoked about the sign this shows of Renault’s commitment level too.

  10. Is that you, Jake?

    1. Meant to be a reply to StephenH…

  11. ian dearing
    7th July 2020, 17:03

    So that’s goodbye Seb, or at a push Hamilton?

    1. Hopefully Hamilton, would give some hope to the rest to know a dominant Merc could spin randomly at anytime.

  12. ColdFly (@)
    7th July 2020, 17:03

    F1 deserves to have the best drivers.
    Alonso is (was in 2018) still one of them.

    1. @coldfly Well he once was, but if he comes back and gets beaten by Ocon and the rest of the young generation we now have, it wouldn’t make his (and Renault’s) insistence to bring him back and deprive that seat from a young talented driver, seem like a great decision for both of them.

      1. ColdFly (@)
        7th July 2020, 17:31



        1. @coldfly
          Maybe Alonso comes back and Renault actually do the unthinkable and deliver a championship-winning car and Alonso finally wins his 3rd WDC and retires gracefully after.
          Aaand maybe they don’t and Alonso is again stuck in the midfield. By the time he comes back he’ll be 39-40 years old, if he’s still at his prime and doesn’t nag about what he “deserves”, i would be stunned.

          Hamilton & Vettel, the drivers that battled with Alonso back in the day, they are 35 & 33 years old and they are on the verge of retirement from F1. Kimi is 40 but at this point he’s just driving for fun’s sake.
          Most “championship-contender” teams, or even the “podium-aspiring” ones, have pretty much shifted their line ups for young drivers with lots of potential. Mercedes will eventually promote Russell along a decent-aged Bottas ?, Ferrari have gone with Leclerc & Sainz, Red Bull with Verstappen & Albon, McLaren with Norris & Ricciardo. If Renault want to challenge for wins and championships, bringing a has-been with a lot of baggage and a heavy paycheck to satisfy seems quite unorthodox to say the least..

          1. ColdFly (@)
            7th July 2020, 19:30

            I was only talking about the best drivers.
            My expectations of an Abiteboul led Renault are not very high.

          2. @black Think about it this way: if Renault doesn’t provide results in the next two seasons, the parent company could pull the plug on the F1 project. And if you want short-term results, you hire Fernando Alonso. The alternatives are realistically Hulkenberg, Vettel and Zhou. None of whom are as good as Alonso.

          3. @mashiat If Renault see it this way “two years and we’re out”, then Renault has a big problem with their philosophy. Because since they joined, their intentions were to build a good car for the 2021 (now 2022) regs and with the addition of budget cap, the prize money sorted and the simpler (more spec) cars, to give them the opportunity to be competitive every year, even if they got it wrong the first time.

            As for drivers, setting aside all the baggage Alonso brings to a team, seriously what has he done in the last few years apart for constantly hyping himself up? His last win was in 2013, last poidum in 2014, he was driving around in a uncompetitive McLaren praising just himself that he’s a “god” that salvaged 7th place, when other midfield drivers did the same and they didn’t praise themselves half that much as Alonso. He left McLaren and made us think that without him McLaren are going to wander around the midfield especially with “inferior” drivers to him like Sainz and Norris…and McLaren since then are the most competitive (and healthy) they have bee since 2012!

            None of whom are as good as Alonso
            Alonso is 40. How many years are we going to still hear that “Alonso is always the best no matter his age”…? I fear that he’ll still be 45-50 years old and he’ll still hype himself. Schumacher was good, more than good in fact, he left and returned in his 40s and just when everyone expected to challenge again for the WDC, he lost 3 consecutive seasons to a young Rosberg.
            Hylkenberg and Vettel are out of the question, Zhou is an intresting option, as is poaching Bottas from Mercedes or giving Russell a 2-year deal as a loan from Mercedes if they can’t promote him soon. They cost less, they are way more relevant to F1, they have higher potential and they won’t turn the whole team to a “cult of praising Alonso’s achivements”.

      2. @black
        I think it is quite the opposite (my opinion), Ocon will probably get Vandoorned by Alonso

        1. @tifoso1989 Totally.
          (‘Vandoorned’ hehe. So it’s a verb now)

          1. Translated Vandoorn means From Thorn (Or bush) so yes, Ocon will probably get Thorned by Alonso.

  13. Oh nooo, please! He is so much caught up with himself! Let the young drivers come in, give them the chance, Alonso had plenty, let him go to Indianapolis and make noise there.

  14. That’s the triple crown dream dead, then. Wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if this wasn’t heavily encouraged (and bankrolled) by Carey and co. With HAM, still the favourite this year, VET out of Ferrari, and a RAI being mysterious as ever, there’s a real possibility there’ll only be one champion on track next year. F1 probably thinks it needs a bit more star power.

  15. Manufacturer teams are in the sport for exposure and exposure alone. The technology transfer/road relevance is nil at this point. Alonso brings the attention and the $. It just so happens the guy can still perform at the highest level so its a win win.

  16. Dan (@canon1753)
    7th July 2020, 17:12

    I hope Seb has something lined up. Maybe a sabbatical year then take over at Merc when Lewis retires

  17. So rather than prove he’s still got it, by competing in a series against another 40 year old driver still at the top of his game, he’d sooner chug around in a non competitive car and blame it for not being competitive ? …OK.

  18. That’s Ocon’s F1 career over then! 😜

    1. @sonnycrockett Is Esteban Ocon’s career over?

      1. If Alonso does to him what he did to Vandoorne then, yes!

      2. @jerejj clearly – Esteban Ocon has already announced he is retiring at the end of 2020, as it says in the other article. Ocon said he did not want to be paired with Alonso, and therefore triggered a clause in his contract with Renault that entitles him to a large retirement package, the full details of which have not been released.

        Ocon told reporters, via video conference,

        “I am very grateful to Renault for providing me with this opportunity. I wish Renault and Fernando all the best for their future together. In the meantime I am, of course, focusing on completing this season with Renault, and look forward to our remaining races together.”

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      7th July 2020, 17:56

      Man, your picture and username brought back some fond memories.

      I loved the intro to Miami Vice with the 2 Ferraris. That black Daytona Spyder and white TestaRossa were as iconic as the Lamborghini in Cannonball Run.

      1. You didn’t like Don’s Heartbeat? :)

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          7th July 2020, 19:28

          Lol, I just checked the video on youtube. Here’s the first comment:

          This Man had the 80s by the b*lls.

  19. Sergey Sirotkin would deserve that drive more in my view. He’s already in the team, so he’d be an easy pick.

    1. This (if it happens) also reduces Hulkenberg’s chances of returning to racing in F1 in the short-term.

      1. @jerejj I’m not sure why Sirotkin would deserve the seat more. He didn’t have a stellar junior record and he didn’t perform very well relative to Stroll, and for me, that’s enough to prove he’s not worthy of F1.

  20. Jockey Ewing
    7th July 2020, 17:31

    Even if Zhou dominates a whole season at F2? Because there is some chance to that. F2 field seems amazing now, the newcomers are as really good as expected, many of these guys will earn their promotion by merit. Imo this is not a good sign for Giovinazzi, although he still can turn out to be the Italian Grosjean (career length-wise). There are so many better drivers. Hopefully they won’t bring Briatore back too :P
    Poor Renault, they can’t build a better chassis than their supplied team McLaren for a 2nd season. They are one of the largest car manufacturers of the world, so basically within boundaries of common sense they have infinite resources. Ok, not achieving success happened to other big manufacturers too, but not beating their supplied team multiple seasons in a row in modern F1? Imo they are on par or lesser in 3years in a row. Or they can build an ok chassis, but they can’t understand their own equipment reliability-wise?
    Ok, I don’t mind as I like McLaren, Lando, and Sainz too, but I like Ricciardo too, and this reliability is trying my patience.

  21. – To be or not to be is the question.

    Upon returning to F1, he returns as a double world champion, one of the best of his generation;
    They have a dimension that adds importance to the F1 championship;
    Guaranteed show, within the show itself;

    On the other hand, on his return, he eliminates the possibility of a new driver entering F1;
    If things don’t go well, it’s in his blood mass, it spreads toxicity.

    One thing is guaranteed, with the return confirmed, it is too big for things to remain indifferent …

  22. I don’t see what Alonso stands to gain from this. If it’s as simple as him missing driving f1 cars then fair enough but he has said time and time again that he wants to fight for the title. He was at least winning with ferrari when he left and in reality Renault is a P8, P9 kind of car.

    1. Only Facts!
      7th July 2020, 21:10


      1. Be fit for 2022

  23. Can he still fit in a F1 Car ?

    1. obviously I haven’t seen him up close but he still seems really fit seeing recent inverviews and videos. probably as fit as Schumacher back in ’10

    2. Last picture I’ve seen he was maybe too thin

    3. He’s like yea high, no?

  24. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    7th July 2020, 17:52

    GP2 Chassis!

  25. geoff Kennedy
    7th July 2020, 17:59

    Pity for the young drivers waiting for their chance. Alonso was good and had his time. Make way for the new generation!

  26. Toxic racer to toxic team? I was super happy when Hulk joined them but the way they handled him and the way Cyril operating the team… It’s a match now with Alonso…

    1. Only Facts!
      7th July 2020, 21:12

      And he also brings Briatore’s ghost with him

    2. With toxic teammate. It’s going to be fun.

  27. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    7th July 2020, 18:13

    Bad choice, and I don’t really get why. Renault are nowhere near the podium and don’t look like they will be for a while so why’s he coming back? To drive around in lower reaches of the top ten? If he wants to fight for a title this seems a strange choice.

    Hulkenberg, Sirotkin, Zhou, Magnussen – even Kubica would have been stronger and more interesting choices. Given Ocon/Perez’s little arguments I can’t see Alonso enjoying that environment either.

    1. Ambrogio Isgro
      7th July 2020, 21:40

      How Kubica, Magnussen or Sirotkin are a stringere or more interesting choices? Kubica was destroyed by Russell last year, Sirotkin is not F1 material as Stroll, Magnussen is going nowhere. Hulkenberg? Fast but not the fastest, not lucky and prone to mistakes when is the moment to deliver.
      So, it’s just about Zhou, the guy is fast but need to win the Championship. Maybe he will be ready for 2022 to learn from Alonso, when Ocon ends his contract.

      So for Vettel rest Aston Martin as the only option or Mercedes 2023 if Lewis retire.

  28. I was so happy when he retired. The constant hype around his sunday drives and he talking himself up was annoying. But somehow he left a void that wasn’t filled properly. Instead of funny meltdowns and narcissistic dramas we got more well-behaved youngsters and cringy Hamilton noise.

    1. Aaaaw cheer up man, what’s not to like about some (mostly self inflicted) drama.
      I’m expecting lots of popcorn moments… jay! :-D

  29. Best F1 news in ages as long as it’s not a 1-year deal.

  30. But he won’t be in the best car.
    But he can fight.

    And we’re going to hear about it ad naseum.

  31. Are there any success stories of drivers coming back to F1 after retirement?

    1. @emu55
      Lauda & Prost won their last titles after coming back from retirements.