Fernando Alonso has been described as “a brand in himself” by Renault’s CEO ahead of his return to Formula 1 next year.
The two-time former World Champion will be spearheading a rebranded team – Renault are changing their name to Alpine, the racing and sports car manufacturer which they bought in the 1970s and was relaunched in 2017.
They are expected to switch from the current yellow and black livery to one that heavily features blue, the colour most associated with Alpine.
🔵 Alpine F1 Team enters Formula 1 🔵
Starting from the 2021 season, Groupe Renault’s team becomes Alpine F1 Team, equipped with a Renault E-TECH hybrid engine.
— Renault F1 Team (@RenaultF1Team) September 6, 2020
Alonso’s return for a third stint with Renault is expected to help considerably with rebuilding the profile of the historic Alpine brand, replacing Daniel Ricciardo in the driver line-up when the Australian moves to McLaren.
The Spaniard is currently spending a second year out of Formula 1 but will partner Esteban Ocon next season.
Renault’s new CEO Luca de Meo, asked what Alonso will bring to the team from a commercial perspective, said, quoted by GP Fans: “We think ‘well, that’s why we hired him’.
“I know, for example, the level of attractiveness this guy has in not only his country (Spain) but in countries around the world, in South America.
“I mean, he is a brand in himself and he is a very strong driver. He is very motivated to come back to his house, a bit like me. I started at Renault and I have come back after many decades, 25 years.
“We are both very pleased to have a chance to give a contribution. I think for sure he is an asset.”
Alpine’s reputation follows its successes in rallying in the 1970s – they were the first ever winners of the constructors’ World Championship – and endurance racing and with such rich heritage, De Meo believes the brand will be an even better fit than Renault for F1.
“I see Formula 1 as a car guy, as a passion,” he said. “I see this place as the PhD of automotive, the pinnacle of motor racing and that is how I sell it to my colleagues.
“I think all of Alpine’s spirit will give us a boost. Even though Renault is a glorious brand, I think the fit within the Formula 1 world with Alpine will be better.”