Fernando Alonso says it will be an “amazing feeling” when he kickstarts his return to Formula 1 with Renault by testing at the Barcelona circuit today.
The two-time world champion will gain some on-circuit experience with Renault’s 2020 package by running the current car for a filming or promotional day, with the usual 100kms limit.
The outing will be his first for Renault since the Abu Dhabi GP at the end of 2009, before his move to Ferrari.
Alonso’s most recent F1 mileage came when he ran two days in a Renault-powered McLaren in Bahrain in April 2019. His last competitive outing was at the Indy 500 in August with the Arrow McLaren SP team.
Alonso has spent time at the Renault’s Enstone factory in recent weeks, meeting with the engineers and trying the simulator.
“It’s going to be an amazing feeling, after two years not driving an F1,” he said.
“I’m really looking forward. I think it’s going to be like a new beginning, getting surprised about the speed of the car, the braking performance, the cornering speed, a lot of things that will surprise me once again, and I’m looking forward.
“It is very special to be back in Barcelona. I remember my first test with Benetton in the year 2000 was in Barcelona, and it’s going to be in the same circuit 20 years after that first test, it’s going to be one of the last opportunities with the car name on the Renault brand, because next year it’s going to change.
“I feel very privileged and I’m looking forward and very excited. Preparing for this test was not easy.
“With the COVID situation it was not the normal preparations, not many days in the simulator, but nevertheless we are ready.
“It’s only 100kms, it’s a filming day, so we try to maximise those laps and try to get some images and some filming.
“I know that I will learn and will discover a lot of things during those laps. I will take it with a very open approach and try to learn as much in every kilometre.”
Next year Alonso will be partnered by Esteban Ocon in the renamed Alpine team.
After Daniel Ricciardo’s third place in the Eifel GP Team boss Cyril Abiteboul underlined Alonso’s commitment to the project by noting that he had been in regular contact through the weekend.
“We received a message before, during and after the race,” said Abiteboul.
“You would be impressed to measure his level of interest. And I think that when he initially joined the team, and in his communication when we announced him, it was very much about 2022.
“And the more the season is going and with the team’s progression, the car progression, the more he starts to be interested in 2021.
“I think Fernando is like a big shark. And as soon as he starts to feel the blood he wants to attack. That’s what I see – I see a shark very hungry.”