Fernando Alonso is unlikely to get an early return to the F1 cockpit over a race weekend this season after team principal Cyril Abiteboul played down the prospect of an FP1 outing.

Renault formally confirmed Alonso – its 2005 and 2006 F1 World Champion – will return to the team for the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship season in what will be his first outing in the top tier since he parted ways with McLaren at the end of 2018.

It marks his third stint with Renault, following his title-winning turns between 2003 and 2006, before winning two more races with the manufacturer between 2008 and 2009.

His return comes after much heated speculation in recent weeks prompted by Daniel Ricciardo’s decision to leave Renault at the end of the year.

However, while it means Renault’s line-up is set for 2021 and Alonso is not tied to any other team, he won’t take the opportunity to reacquaint himself with F1 machinery with an F1 outing because ‘he doesn’t need it’.

“I don’t think he needs an FP1 to get familiar with procedures in an F1 car,” Abiteboul said. “We have the possibility of running him in a 2018 car, to confirm we have no plans.

“He will at some point get to our factory and meet our team, he knows some members, some people are new and it is a great opportunity for him to spend some time in advance to get familiar with the team and the way we are working.”

The return will be 16 years since Alonso lifted his second world title with Renault, with Abiteboul saying the Spaniard will be a huge boost for the younger members who would have been at school when he was first triumphing.

“It will be a boost for staff motivation and a lot of people will have joined who would have been at school when Fernando won his first title with us. We will try to take the opportunity of what he can bring to the team but I don’t think [practice] is necessary for him.”



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