Fernando Alonso says he felt his competitive spirit kicking in as he drove the 2020 Renault during the season-ending Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi.
Eight of the 10 teams remained at the Yas Marina Circuit for the one-day test on Tuesday, with the majority running two cars. Alonso topped the times on a 1m36.333s in what was his first proper test with the current car, and the Spaniard – who will race for the rebranded Alpine next season – said it was more than just an opportunity to get comfortable in the car.
“It was good and very nice to be back in the car especially with the race team,” Alonso said. “I’ve been testing the 2018 car in preparation, but this one felt a bit more serious and it ignited a little bit the competitive spirit.
“It was great to feel the modern cars and experience what they can do. I was watching the team’s progress at the weekend closely and it was nice to experience what I learnt from the outside and then inside the cockpit today.
“We signed off lots of basic things we did in preparation at the factory like seat fitting, pedal position and so on, which is beneficial with only one-and-a-half days of winter testing next year. We ticked boxes today and we go into Christmas and New Year with good spirit and everyone motivated in the team.”
Alonso’s best lap came on a low fuel qualifying simulation, and he ended up 1.6 seconds clear of Guanyu Zhou in the second Renault, who had a spin at Turn 19 exiting the hotel section in the morning session.
“It was a pretty decent day,” Zhou said. “I got used to the car straight away, we did a lot of laps including race runs and performance runs, which were very interesting. Our pace was reasonably stable, so I was happy with that, especially this morning’s performance run. There were a couple of technical things here and there, but it is testing, we still did a lot of laps, and that is the main purpose.
“I wasn’t really looking for lap time and during the last two sessions, together with the team, we found a good balance on the car in comparison to the evening sessions at the weekend, so that’s positive learning for the team. Overall, I’m really happy with my first time driving the 2020 car, so thanks to Renault for the opportunity.”