Fernando Alonso makes his Renault F1 on-track debut
Spends the day filming at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona, Spain
Two Time F1 champ Fernando Alonso returned to the wheel of a Formula 1 car Tuesday for the first time in nearly two years. Alonso spend the day with the team filming and getting time behind the wheel of the Renault R.S.20 car at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona, Spain.
Alonso completed 21 laps and 100km as mandated by FIA regulations. He last drove an F1 car, a McLaren, in April 2019 in Bahrain.
“It felt amazing to be able to drive these cars after two years and feel the speed again,” Alonso said. “How everything comes so fast, corner after corner, the performance under braking and all the things a Formula 1 car has to offer. To feel it once again felt nice.”
The Spaniard was happy to be at the same track where he made his F1 debut 20 years ago.
“Of course. It made it special to be back in Barcelona,” he said. “I remember the year 2000, I drove the Benetton here with the Enstone guys. Now, in 2020, it’s with Renault, so it’s a special track and I have lots of good memories here. It’s a track I know very well, so it’s been a good day.”
As for what he completed Tuesday, it was not only about getting some filming in.
“At the same time, it was about working with the team to do a couple of laps and for me to find comfort in the seat, the steering wheel and the pedals,” he said. “These are things for next year which, over winter, could be very tight. It’s our first steps.”
Alonso said the Renault R.S.20 was a ‘nice surprise.’
“We know the car is performing well at the last couple of races and I felt the grip and certainly good potential in it,” he said. “The last time I drove a Renault engine was in 2018 and I felt a step forwards, which is quite important there. Everything felt good. I wasn’t able to maximize the performance of the car because I’m not up to speed yet, but I’m happy with the day.”
Alonso said he has visited the team at Enstone twice and Viry once.
“I felt at home already from day one,” he said. “There is this atmosphere at Enstone, and in this team, that everything is so simple and logical in everything they do. I’m comfortable here with Renault. A lot of the people who worked today, worked as mechanics in my days in the team. When you know the faces and the team, everything comes a little easier.”
He was well aware that the team scored a podium, its first in 10 years, last weekend in Germany.
“Absolutely, I watch every race,” he said. “I’m in the weekend even from a distance. I follow every lap. The podium was very well deserved, finally. I’m so happy for everyone. Cyril might be a bit worried for the tattoo but, other than that, it was a fantastic moment.”
“I was waiting for the last lap,” he added. “I was so happy for everyone. I wrote the message and then had my finger on send until Daniel crossed the line. I didn’t want to send it in case for luck reasons!”
That finish makes Alonso excited for his own future with the team, which will start on-track next season.
“I’m still the same after Sunday,” he said. “I know what the team is capable of and I know the prospects for the future are good. The podium is a thing that had to happen. Most important thing is to follow the trend that we see now, keep the momentum into next year, especially for 2022, and I think we know how to do it.”