‘It ignited the competitive spirit’ says Alonso after posting fastest time in Abu Dhabi test
Fernando Alonso posted the fastest time of all the runners at the post-season F1 test in Abu Dhabi, and said the day had "ignited his competitive spirit".
The two-time champion was back in the 2020 Renault for the second time, after he first sampled the car on a filming day at Barcelona back in October. He has also been running the team's 2018 challenger, as he bids to get back up to speed ahead of his return to Grand Prix racing next year.
He completed 105 laps of the Yas Marina Circuit on Tuesday, posting a best time of 1m36.333s - the fastest of all 15 runners on the day.
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“It was good and very nice to be back in the car especially with the race team," he 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,” he said.
“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.”
Newly-crowned Formula 2 champion Mick Schumacher – who will make the step up to F1 next year with Haas – was also on track for the test, notching up 125 laps. He was bottom of the timesheets with a best lap of 1m 39.947, but said afterwards the run was more about getting to grips with the kind of tyres he'll be using next year.
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“I’m very happy I managed to do so many laps – it’s not always a given in testing," he said. "The key point from today was just to understand the tyres a little more – for that, the long runs were very good. I think we achieved that, and I now have a pretty good knowledge of what I need to do although the tyres might be a bit different next year.
"I feel very comfortable, I know the team’s happy, so that’s good. I really was so happy to be in the car and it was so much fun to drive. I’m really looking forward to next year.”
Elsewhere, Yuki Tsunoda was in action for AlphaTauri, posting a best lap time of 1m 37.557s and completing 123 laps. The Japanese driver has been widely tipped to replace Daniil Kvyat at the team for next season.
Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne were second and third-quickest, respectively, for Mercedes, with Robert Kubica in fourth for Alfa Romeo, a tenth up on Tsunoda.
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In the other Alfa, F2 runner-up Callum Ilott was eighth-fastest after 93 laps, with Guanyu Zhou under a tenth behind in the second Renault.
Ilott's fellow Ferrari Driver Academy racer Robert Shwartzman posted a best lap of 1m 38.157 to go 11th quickest in the Ferrari SF1000, while Jack Aitken - fresh from his F1 debut in the Sakhir Grand Prix - was one place and just 0.004s quicker in the Williams.
See the full timesheet below.