Alonso pushing Renault to run 2022 car in wind tunnel on January 1, reveals Budkowski
Having driven a Renault F1 car on three separate occasions in the past five weeks, it seems that Fernando Alonso is chomping at the bit for his 2021 Formula 1 comeback to begin. But according to Renault’s Executive Director Marcin Budkowski, his enthusiasm for his F1 return extends beyond simply driving, with the two-time champion calling on Renault to begin wind tunnel testing their 2022 car as soon as legally possible.
Teams are currently prevented from running any wind tunnel tests on their 2022 cars – which will work to radically revised aerodynamic regulations, designed to encourage closer racing – until January 1 2021. But according to Budkowski, that’s the precise date Alonso wants to see the car running in the wind tunnel – meaning it’s likely to be a quiet New Year’s Eve for a number of Renault staff…
“We were in the wind tunnel,” said Budkowski of a recent trip made by Alonso to Renault’s Enstone factory, “and he said, ‘So, you can’t run the ’22 at the moment?’ And we said no, we can’t do it, because of the regulations. ‘So, when can you start developing?’ And we said first of January. ‘Okay, are you running on the first of January?’ And we said normally we don’t but this year we might because it’s the year, you know?
“And he said, ‘Okay, we have to run on the first of January. I will come here and help you on the first of January.’ So this is the level of motivation of Fernando at the moment.”
Alonso has now driven a 2018-spec Renault R.S.18 in two separate tests, both held at Bahrain earlier this month, while he also sampled Renault’s current R.S.20 during a filming day at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on October 13. And according to Budkowski, those preparations will be crucial for Alonso given the limited pre-season testing opportunities in 2021.
“Partly, it’s him wanting to get back in shape and get back in the rhythm of driving a car,” said Budkowski of Alonso’s recent spate of tests. “But it’s an opportunity… to work with him on things like the steering wheel, his favourite button position, how he wants to be able to activate all the differences in the car, practise our procedures.
“It seems simple but the more we practise these things, the less we have to do during the winter testing. We only have three days of running for our two drivers in winter testing next year, so practising FIA procedures, all the various things that he will need to have under his belt, that might be different from what he experienced before and also… getting him used to a Renault car, even if it’s a two-year-old car, is beneficial.”