Renault won’t allow Fernando Alonso’s return to the team distract it from its plans to focus on its 2022 car, despite the momentum it has been building this year.
The 2020 cars are largely frozen as part of cost cutting measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with teams only being able to freely change the aerodynamics of their cars next year. A token system relates to other changes, but those restrictions don’t currently allow teams to do extensive work on the 2022 cars – when new regulations are introduced – as aerodynamic work is banned until the start of next year.
With Renault enjoying a strong season and in the fight for third place in the constructors’ championship, team principal Cyril Abiteboul insists the fact that Alonso is returning to the team next year will not see more resources allocated to the 2021 car.
“We will have to have a very strict discipline,” Abiteboul said. “In relation to that, the FIA has made our situation and life easier; from a strategic perspective there is no question mark. Right now it is full steam ahead on the 2021 car (because) we have no ability to develop the aerodynamics of the 2022 car.
“And we actually have found out that, despite the limitation from the homologation and the token system, there is quite a lot of performance that is going to come from the 2021 car.
“It’s good, but I can also tell you that on the first of January, 2022, the 2021 (season) will be behind. There will be 100 percent focus on the 2022 car so despite the better results, despite Fernando pushing also, our agenda should not change – will not change – the agenda will be to put the priority on the 2022 car.”
However, Abiteboul admits Alonso – who tested the current car during a filming day in Barcelona last week – is showing a greater interest in the 2021 project as a result of recent successes such as Daniel Ricciardo’s podium in Germany.
“You would be impressed to measure his level of interest. I think that when he actually joined the team, his communication was very much about 2022, (but) the way the team and season (has gone) and the car has progressed, the more he starts to be interested in 2021.
“Fernando is like a big shark: As soon as he starts to feel the blood, he wants to attack. That’s what I see — a shark, very angry…”