Cyril Abiteboul has said that, ahead of his return to the grid next season, Fernando Alonso is like a hungry shark waiting to attack.
The Spaniard made the biggest step of his comeback yet when he tested the 2020 Renault for the first time in Barcelona.
He took part in a filming day at the Circuit de Catalunya, which allowed him to drive the R.S. 20 for a total of 100km which he described as “very special”.
While the team will be rebranded as Alpine next year, Cyril Abiteboul will remain in charge, and he has no concerns over Alonso’s motivation.
“Fernando is like a big shark,” Abiteboul said.
“As soon as he starts to feel the blood, he wants to attack. That’s what I see.
“I see a shark, very hungry – so that will be good to see.”
Alonso has previously made no attempts to hide the fact that he has mainly joined the team due to the regulation changes in 2022, and does not have high expectations for next season.
However, in recent times, Renault has looked much stronger and arguably now has the third quickest car on the grid, as shown by Daniel Ricciardo podium finish in Germany.
— Renault F1 Team (@RenaultF1Team) October 13, 2020
Given that the pecking order will largely stay the same for 2021, Abieboul says that such performances will make Alonso more interested in the short-term picture.
“The situation is obviously very positive,” he added.
“We receive a message before, during, after the race. You would be impressed to measure his level of interest.
“I think that when he initially joined the team and when we announced him, his communication was very much about 2022.
“The more the season is going and with the team’s progression, the car progression, the more he starts to be interested in 2021.”
Alonso will be replacing Ricciardo, who is leaving to join McLaren, and Abiteboul blames himself for the Aussie’s early decision to leave.
“It blew me away to hear him announce his departure because this winter, I felt the car had potential,” Abiteboul told L’Equipe.
“The pandemic stopped everything, but I blame myself for not having been able to show Daniel what was the true potential of our project.”