RACE DEBRIEF

    Renault have already made it clear that they have no intention of putting Fernando Alonso in a race seat ahead of his much anticipated return to the F1 grid in 2021 – but as the Spaniard has ramped up his preparations, speculation has mounted that he may be preparing to return to the cockpit sooner than expected. However, Alonso has poured cold water on that idea, saying he only wants to return “when I feel that I’m ready to do so”.

    Having had his first taste of the R.S.20 in Barcelona recently – ostensibly the same car he will race next year, albeit with his sample session mileage limited and coming on demonstration tyres – Alonso is set to drive Renault’s 2018-spec machine in Bahrain next month.

    But these runs are aimed at bringing him up to speed for 2021, not – says the man himself – with this year in mind.

    “No, I don’t think so – I hope not,” said the two-time world champion when asked on a flying visit to Imola if he’d race in F1 in 2020. “If I race in 2020, it’s because something happened to the two race drivers and I wish that will not happen. And also I think I will not be 100%, so I prefer to race when I feel that I’m ready to do so.”

    Fernando Alonso tests the R.S.20 at Barcelona on October 13 2020
    Fernando Alonso tests the R.S.20 at Barcelona on October 13 2020

    Those comments hark back to the Spaniard’s comments following his run in the R.S.20, which suggested he recognised it would take him some time to get back to his best.

    READ MORE: Ocon explains how Alonso is already helping Renault’s bid for P3 in 2020

    Asked how long it would take before he was ‘back on it’, Alonso replied: “Difficult to know now. I guess it’s going to take a couple of races to be honest, because the limited testing for next year is going to be a challenge for everyone, but a little bit more for me, because I’m out of the car two years, and I think it’s only going to be one day and a half with the winter testing, so you cannot prepare a world championship in one day and a half.

    “This is how it is, I will try and create on the simulator some automatism, and some things that we need to save time on the real car for fine-tuning the set-up. But it’s a new team, it’s a new steering wheel, controls, new engineers, a lot of new things that will require a little bit of time, but I will try to make it as short as possible.”

    Renault are currently locked in a battle with Racing Point and McLaren for third in the constructors’ standings, with Alonso’s future team mate Esteban Ocon and McLaren-bound Ricciardo having scored 120 points between them – four fewer than McLaren and six fewer than Racing Point.

    2020

    Constructors' standings after 12 rounds

    POSITION POINTS
    1 Mercedes Mercedes Mercedes 435
    2 Red Bull Racing Red Bull Racing Red Bull Racing 226
    3 Racing Point Racing Point Racing Point 126
    4 McLaren McLaren McLaren 124
    5 Renault Renault Renault 120