RACE DEBRIEF

    Fernando Alonso will ramp up his preparations for a sensational return to Formula 1 next season when he tests Renault’s 2020-spec car, the R.S.20, at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya today.

    The Spanish racer has already begun re-integrating himself into the team with which he won his two F1 world titles – in 2005 and 2006 – and which will be rebranded Alpine next year, spending time at both the Enstone and Viry facilities last month.

    READ MORE: Alonso completes simulator session and seat fit at Renault as he bids to get ‘ahead of the game’ for 2021

    Alonso – who will replace Daniel Ricciardo and partner Esteban Ocon in 2021 – has also been in constant contact with team personnel, including Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul, regarding the current programme and is following each weekend – and their progress – keenly.

    He has been pushing to get behind the wheel as soon as possible, but with tight testing restrictions, opportunities are limited.

    07220013_GH_71702.JPG
    Alonso has begun integrating himself into the Renault team

    With the team feeling a Free Practice 1 outing wouldn’t be of much use, they have instead opted to use their second filming day, which allows for 100km of running of the current car on promotional Pirelli tyres, to run the Spaniard.

    The test comes 20 years after his first F1 test with Benetton – a team which Renault have their roots in – at the same circuit.

    READ MORE: 'I score 9 in everything' – Alonso believes he's one of F1's most complete drivers

    “Returning behind the wheel is going to be an amazing feeling,” said Alonso, ahead of today’s test, which is being run by Renault’s race – rather than test - team. “After two years not driving in Formula 1, I’m really looking forward to it.

    “It’s going to be like a new beginning, getting surprised about the speed of the car, the braking performance, the corner speed and a lot of things which will surprise me once again.

    GettyImages-1568035.jpg
    A young Alonso tested for Benetton at Barcelona 20 years ago

    “It’s very special to be back in Barcelona. I remember my first test with Benetton in the year 2000, it was in Barcelona. It’s going to be at the same circuit 20 years after that first test and it’s going to be one of the last opportunities with a car named after the Renault brand because next year it’s going to change. I feel really privileged, I’m looking forward to it, very excited.

    READ MORE: Ricciardo says Eifel GP podium ‘feels like the first all over again’

    “Preparing for this test was not easy,” Alonso added. “With the Covid restrictions, it was not the normal preparations, not many days in the simulator, but nevertheless, I think we are ready. It’s only 100km, it’s a filming day, so we will try to maximise those laps, try to get some images and some filming.

    “I know I will learn and discover a lot of things during those laps. I will take it with a very open approach, try to learn as much as possible in every kilometre.”