Fernando Alonso is set to return to Formula 1 in 2021 with Renault, with an announcement due as early as this week.
RACER understands an announcement confirming Alonso’s return to his former team alongside Esteban Ocon is currently scheduled to be made on Wednesday ahead of the second race of the F1 season in Austria.
Both of Alonso’s drivers’ championships came with Renault in 2005 and 2006, and the 38-year-old has 32 wins to his name, 17 of which were achieved driving for the French constructor, leaving him sixth on the all-time winners list in F1.
The two-time F1 world champion has been out of the sport since the end of 2018 when he left McLaren to focus on other racing targets, including trying to win the Triple Crown by adding the Indianapolis 500 to his Le Mans 24 Hours and Monaco Grand Prix victories. However, the Spaniard has always said he would be interested in returning to F1 if the right opportunity presented itself, and was originally targeting a comeback coinciding with the arrival of a new technical package in 2021.
While the introduction of those regulations has been pushed back by a year to 2022 due to cost saving measures implemented as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, F1 will run under a budget cap from next season, increasing the potential for midfield teams to fight closer to the front.
Renault’s progress stalled somewhat last season as it slipped from fourth in the constructors’ championship to a distant fifth behind McLaren, and Daniel Ricciardo will leave the team at the end of the year, opening up the vacancy that is set to be filled by Alonso.