Former Renault boss Flavio Briatore says Fernando Alonso has “detoxed” himself and is now fully ready for a return to the Formula 1 grid in 2021. 

After a year away from F1, Alonso has found himself linked with a comeback at Renault, with the French manufacturer left with a seat to fill after the news that Daniel Ricciardo will join McLaren next season. 

Last week’s dramatic driver market shuffle was sparked by the news that Sebastian Vettel will depart Ferrari at the end of the year, triggering the Scuderia’s capture of Carlos Sainz and McLaren’s subsequent signing of Ricciardo. 

Why is Sebastian Vettel leaving Ferrari? |

The vacancy at Renault has led to speculation that Alonso - who recently teased that his racing plans for 2021 were “more or less” firmed up - could return to the Enstone squad he won the world title with in 2005 and 2006. 

"Fernando is motivated,” the Spaniard’s manager, Flavio Briatore, told Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport

“A year out of Formula 1 has done him good. He has detoxed himself and I see him more serene and ready to return.”

Briatore believes Vettel ultimately “paid” for the fact that his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc turned out to be faster than expected and added that having two drivers at the same level is always likely to have a negative outcome for the team. 

"In F1 it has always been about having the winning recipe," he explained. 

"You must have one driver who is focused on the world championship and the other who collects big points, snatching them from rivals.

"Vettel paid for the fact that a very fast boy arrived at the team. It surprised him and the team, as happened at McLaren with [Lewis] Hamilton.Two drivers at the same level in a team eventually risk taking points off each other.”

And Briatore reckons the decision to sign Sainz, rather than continuing with Vettel, reflects that Ferrari has already made Leclerc its number one priority. 

"He [Sainz] is a good driver, and he had a good championship in 2019 if we consider the car he had available,” he said. 

"The situation seems clear to me: Ferrari is betting everything on Leclerc and it is good because, as I had the opportunity to say last year, he is a future star. Similarities with Alonso and Schumacher? You can see the good drivers right away.

"I remember well the numbers that Michael did, even if he was still very young, with Benetton. There were also the calls from Giancarlo Minardi to tell me about the young Alonso. You understand immediately if one is special, and Charles is."