Alonso eyes come­back

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - For­mula One By Philip Duncan

Two-time world cham­pion Fernando Alonso is set to re­turn to For­mula One with Re­nault in 2021. Alonso, who left the sport at the end of 2018 af­ter a fi­nal sea­son with McLaren, won his cham­pi­onship ti­tles with Re­nault in 2005 and 2006. The Spa­niard, 38, has made no se­cret of his de­sire to re­turn to the For­mula One grid.

Fernando Alonso is poised to re­turn to For­mula One with Re­nault in 2021. It is un­der­stood that con­fir­ma­tion of the dou­ble world cham­pion’s come­back could be con­firmed as early as to­day.

Alonso, who turns 39 this month, has been out of the sport since ap­pear­ing to bring down the cur­tain on his ca­reer with McLaren in 2018. But the Spa­niard, who won suc­ces­sive cham­pi­onships with Re­nault in 2005 and 2006, ap­pears ready to re­turn to the grid with the French man­u­fac­turer.

Alonso is primed to re­place Daniel Ric­cia­rdo, who is mov­ing to McLaren at the end of the year. Ric­cia­rdo is tak­ing over from Car­los Sainz ahead of his switch to Fer­rari.

Alonso has com­peted in 311 grands prix, win­ning 32 of them. He starred for Re­nault in the early years, be­fore quit­ting McLaren af­ter one sea­son fol­low­ing a tur­bu­lent cam­paign along­side the then-rookie Lewis Hamil­ton.

He re­turned to Re­nault be­fore a four-year pe­riod at Fer­rari, where he twice came close to win­ning the ti­tle. Af­ter fall­ing out with the team, he went back to McLaren, but the switch proved un­suc­cess­ful.

Alonso quit the sport af­ter four sea­sons with McLaren, set­ting his sights on be­com­ing only the sec­ond driver since Bri­tain’s Gra­ham Hill to com­plete the “Triple Crown” – win­ning the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans 24 Hours and Indy 500.

Al­though he won the fa­mous sports car en­durance race in 2018 and 2019, he has not been able to crack the Indy 500.

Re­nault are strug­gling, but Alonso will be hop­ing that an over­haul in the reg­u­la­tions and the in­tro­duc­tion of a £115mil­lion-a-sea­son bud­get cap in 2022 will fire them back up the grid. He will part­ner the French­man Este­ban Ocon.

Mean­while, Fer­rari in­tend to bring for­ward planned up­grades to their car fol­low­ing a dis­ap­point­ing per­for­mance at the sea­son-open­ing Aus­trian Grand Prix.

Charles Le­clerc fin­ished Sun­day’s race sec­ond, but Louis Camil­leri, the team chief ex­ec­u­tive, ad­mit­ted the SF1000 car “didn’t mea­sure up” and has called for im­prove­ments “on all fronts”.

Ahead of this week­end’s Styr­ian Grand Prix, Fer­rari hope to in­tro­duce ad­di­tional parts that were orig­i­nally sched­uled to be used at the sub­se­quent race in Hun­gary.

“It’s clear that we have to im­prove on all fronts. The only so­lu­tion is to re­act,” Camil­leri said in a state­ment on the Fer­rari web­site.

“We are at the start of a new cy­cle with a long-term plan. Any set­backs will cer­tainly not change our cho­sen course and I have ev­ery con­fi­dence in Mat­tia [Binotto, team prin­ci­pal] and the team in ad­dress­ing our short­com­ings.”

Le­clerc’s team-mate, four-time world cham­pion Se­bas­tian Vet­tel, fin­ished the Spiel­berg race down in 10th po­si­tion.

Fer­rari’s ma­jor is­sue was a lack of speed on the straights, with the car los­ing 0.7 sec­onds a lap to ri­vals Mercedes.

Dou­ble cham­pion: Fernando Alonso won world ti­tles with Re­nault in 2005 and 2006

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