Signing Fernando Alonso would be a “no-brainer” for Renault, but that doesn’t mean the Spaniard would necessarily want to join his former team, according to McLaren’s Zak Brown.
Alonso left Formula 1 at the end of 2018 but has been linked with a return in 2021 after a number of driver moves elsewhere. Sebastian Vettel’s departure from Ferrari at the end of the year will pave the way for Carlos Sainz’s move to Maranello, and Daniel Ricciardo replace Sainz at McLaren. That creates a vacancy at Renault, where Alonso won his two drivers’ championships in 2005 and 2006.
Brown has worked closely with Alonso, not only via McLaren’s F1 team but also helping him twice take on the Indy 500 and giving him his debut in the Rolex 24 for United Autosport, and admits he has been trying to find out whether the Spaniard is interested in the Renault vacancy.
“Yeah I spoke with (Alonso) the other day and I was kinda poking around,” Brown told Sky Sports. “I think he’s undecided. And if I was running Renault, that’s who I’d put in the car – a big name, fast as anyone, won two championships with them, so he’s got history. So, from a Renault perspective I think he’s a bit of a no-brainer to put in.”
However, expanding on Alonso being undecided, Brown believes many of the reasons that led to the Spaniard leaving McLaren at the end of 2018 can also be applied to Renault.
“But whether Fernando wants to get back to 22 races with a car that doesn’t look like it’s capable of winning yet? I think given Fernando’s stature, what would get him to jump at a seat is if he thinks he can be at the top of the podium.
“Given that (Renault) are at the similar journey back to the front, and I think they’ll get there – they’re a great team, great resources, great company who’s been there, done that before – (but) I don’t know if Fernando has the appetite to kind of be on a three-year journey versus getting in a car he can win in, in 2021.”
Brown said he gets the impression Vettel is similarly keen to race in F1 but potentially not in the midfield, although he admits the German’s availability came too late in the day for McLaren to change its plans.
“We were already far down the path with Daniel,” he said. “We knew it was going to either be Daniel or Carlos in our car, and we knew that over the winter. So by the time this kind of all popped up with Seb, our ship had sailed. I like where Daniel’s at in his career, he’s got something to prove and he’s hungry.
“Seb’s an awesome champion. I don’t know what will happen with him. Kind of like Fernando, if he wants to get into a car he can go [and] win the championship in right away it doesn’t appear those seats are available. So does he want to hit the reset button and get on a three-year journey somewhere, or is he done?
“I think he clearly still wants to race, so it would be unfortunate if you have a four-time world champion that wants to race but can’t find that seat that he deserves.”