Fernando Alonso says his outing in the post-season young drivers test has “ignited” his competitive spirit ahead of his anticipated return to Formula 1 with Renault next year.

The two-time world champion produced a lap time that was 0.026s quicker than the best qualifying lap managed by either Renault driver at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last weekend as he topped the timesheets in the young drivers test on Tuesday.

In the final day of F1 track running for 2020, Alonso clocked 105 laps around the Yas Marina Circuit in Renault’s RS20 car as he continued to ramp up his preparations ahead of a third stint with the Enstone outfit next season.


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“It was good and very nice to be back in the car especially with the race team,” Alonso said after ending the day with the fastest time.

“I’ve been testing the 2018 car in preparation but this one felt a bit more serious and it ignited a little bit the competitive spirit. It was great to feel the modern cars and experience what they can do.

“I was watching the team’s progress at the weekend closely and it was nice to experience what I learnt from the outside and then inside the cockpit today.

"We signed off lots of basic things we did in preparation at the factory like seat fitting, pedal position and so on, which is beneficial with only one and a half days of winter testing next year.

“We ticked boxes today and we go into Christmas and New Year with good spirit and everyone motivated in the team.”

Formula 2 frontrunner Guanyu Zhou was also in action for Renault, who said the focus of the test was to “enable both drivers to grow accustomed to modern F1 machinery across low fuel qualifying simulations and high fuel race runs”.

Zhou ended the day with the ninth-quickest time, over 1.6 seconds down on Alonso’s best lap, but said he was not “looking for lap time” during his first outing in Renault’s 2020 challenger.

“It was a pretty decent day,” Zhou said. “I got used to the car straight away, we did a lot of laps including race runs and performance runs, which were very interesting.

“Our pace was reasonably stable, so I was happy with that, especially this morning’s performance run. There were a couple of technical things here and there, but it is testing, we still did a lot of laps, and that is the main purpose.

“I wasn’t really looking for lap time and during the last two sessions, together with the team, we found a good balance on the car in comparison to the evening sessions at the weekend, so that’s positive learning for the team.

“Overall, I’m really happy with my first time driving the 2020 car, so thanks to Renault for the opportunity.”