Fernando Alonso took the opportunity to visit Renault’s factories at Enstone and Viry-Chatillon as he began preparations for his return to Formula 1 in 2021.

Renault confirmed Alonso's return to the sport in May, replacing the McLaren-bound Daniel Ricciardo.

The Spaniard spent the majority of his early career with Renault, claiming his first victory with the team in 2003 and later claiming two drivers' titles in 2005 and 2006.

His second spell with the team in 2008 and 2009 wasn’t as fruitful - marred by the ‘crash gate’ scandal - but Alonso is back for a third spell in 2021.

During the past week, Alonso carried out meetings with senior management, a seat fit and also undertook simulator work. 

“Being back at Enstone was a very good experience, they were very emotional days,” Alonso said.  “A lot of things have changed; the simulator is new, the wind tunnel has been updated, but a few things are the same: there are the same offices, the gym that I used to visit a lot.

“It was like a first day at school, with lots of things to learn and get through, but it was very productive. I’ve followed a programme in the simulator, getting used to the car a little, testing the facilities – last time I was here the simulator didn’t exist! Then I had a seat fit and meetings with key people to understand the programme for next year. It was really just getting up to speed.”

Alonso was buoyed by Renault’s improved turn of pace in recent grands prix with Ricciardo narrowly missing out on a podium finish at Spa-Francorchamps and Mugello.

“I think the team is in good shape for the future,” Alonso added. “The last few races were encouraging for everyone, for myself too. To see Renault back in a competitive manner is a good thing for the sport and I’ve been delighted to see the improvements.

“We’ve still got a long way to go and the midfield is very tight but I think the guys have done an amazing job trackside. The last couple of races were very exciting to watch and I am looking forward to being back in the mix. I’ll now follow what the team needs from my side – some sim days, helping some weekends and being available for the team for anything they need.”

 

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