As the F1 fans come back in Russia, so Fernando Alonso is back with Renault.
While his future rivals are focussed on the grand prix challenge in Sochi, the two-time champion is already working on his comeback with Renault – soon to be Alpine – in 2021.
Alonso has made back-to-back visits to Renault’s technical headquarters at Viry-Chatillon near Paris as well as the race-team headquarters at Enstone in the British countryside.
Both locations are familiar to the speedy Spaniard who won both of his world titles with the Renault team, but he arrived as a new-look racer – much thinner and fitter than he has been during his Toyota sports car and Dakar campaign – but with an obvious eagerness in his eyes.
“It was a like a first day at school, with lots of things to learn and get through, but it was very productive,” Alonso said of his time at Enstone.
“Being back at Enstone was a very good experience, they were very emotional days,” commented Fernando. “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…”
Alonso was wearing Renault-branded casual clothes at Viry-Chatillon, but switched to fresh Renault race overalls – with his signature #14 on the back – in Britain as he also had his first serious seat fitting for his return role next year.
“I’ve followed a program 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 program for next year. It was really just getting up to speed.”
As Alonso prepares for 2021, things are looking increasingly good in 2020 with Daniel Ricciardo pushing towards the front of the mid-pack teams with performances that are pleasing his successor.
“I think the team is in good shape for the future. The last few races were encouraging for everyone, for myself too,” said Alonso.
“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.”