Fernando Alonso will return to the cockpit of a Formula 1 car this year, says Renault team boss Cyril Abiteboul.

Renault has signed the two-time world champion to replace the McLaren-bound Daniel Ricciardo and complete its 2021 driver line-up alongside Esteban Ocon.

Alonso visited Renault’s Enstone factory earlier this week and made it clear he would be available to help the French squad in any way possible before he makes his eagerly anticipated F1 comeback next season.

Renault is determined to give Alonso an outing of some form before the end of the year in order to help the Spaniard get up to speed, although it has ruled out a practice outing.

Instead, it has approached the FIA to see if it can get permission to run Alonso in the post-season Abu Dhabi test which is meant to be used for young drivers.

But speaking ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, Abiteboul said Renault could use one of its two permitted filming days to give Alonso some mileage, or even an outing in its 2018-spec car.

“He's definitely keen on getting back behind the steering wheel,” Abiteboul revealed. “So you’ll see that. We're building the programme, there is a couple of opportunities, within obviously the restrictions of the Sporting Regulations.

“Things like filming days that we've not done so far. There is a post-season test… so we'll see where we get there. We also have a two-year-old car programme that we can run pretty much anywhere, and we will probably do a bit of that also.

“So you'll see him in action. But I can't say here where and when exactly yet.”

Upon his first return to Enstone since joining Renault for 2021, Alonso completed a seat fitting and conducted some runs in the simulator as he officially began work with the team.

“We saw Fernando was happy to be back – not yet in action, but back in the team environment,” Abiteboul said.

“In particular in the team that he knows and where he obviously has good souvenirs. But souvenirs are not a reflection of what's coming, what's going to happen. So we need also to be forward-looking.

“I can tell you he was really impressed by all the changes in Viry, all the new people, the energy, the drive, the determination that there is in Viry for developing a new [power unit] for what is now 2022.

“Obviously I'm biased when I say that, but it's something that is extremely important to us, to see Fernando and to see this pride and excitement in his eyes… [Now] we just need to work very hard to make sure that he has a car that he wants and also that he deserves.”



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