Fernando Alonso: Renault was always the preferred choice

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Fernando Alonso spoke with a few teams about a Formula 1 comeback but says Renault was “always the preferred choice”.

Winning back-to-back championships with the Enstone outfit in 2005 and 2006, Alonso said he was drawn by his connections to their past as well as the promise of their future.

“I talked to a few teams but Renault was always the preferred choice,” he told Sky Sports F1. “For two reasons. One, in terms of expectations and building something from the midfield to the top, it was very attractive, very appealing. And secondly because I know everyone in this team.

“I know the passion for racing. It’s the third time I come here and I knew I would feel at home here.”

Leaving the French constructor in 2007 for a tumultuous season with McLaren, Alonso returned in 2008 before Ferrari lured him away in 2010. At the Scuderia he twice came close to a third driver’s title in 2010 and 2012, but ultimately fell short and left in 2015 for a second, disastrous stint at McLaren before exiting the sport at the end of 2018.

Never closing the door on a F1 return, the Spaniard signed a two-year deal with Renault – to be rebranded Alpine next season – in July, and has since taken part in a filming day with the 2020 car at Barcelona and an unlimited test with the 2018 car in Bahrain to ensure he can hit the ground running.

“When you go out of the sport for two years and then you drive a Formula 1 car again, everything surprises you like the first time,” he said of his return to F1 machinery. “I need those laps now.

“The simulator is good until a certain point, but then you need the physical effort of the car, the G-forces, the training of the neck. I need as many laps as possible.”

And with Renault sitting third in the 2020 constructor’s championship and seemingly edging towards its old winning ways, the Spaniard suggests that the pressure is on him, not the team, to find the necessary performance.

“Honestly, I expect to be straight up to speed,” he said. “But I’m aware of the challenge that maybe I face in the first couple of races.

“Not only on pure speed, but also on procedures, steering wheel commands, things that are new for me and could take some time. I’m aware that I could struggle a little bit. But I want to think that it will not happen.”

Turning 40 next season, Alonso will be the second-oldest driver on the grid behind Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen. However when asked whether that meant his comeback was likely to be a short one, Alonso maintained he didn’t pay any attention to the calendar.

“I think in motorsport, the stopwatch tells you when it is time to stop, not the age,” he said. “I hope the stopwatch is on my side in the next coming years.”

Source: grandprix247.com; planetf1.com

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