Alonso gets in 93 laps of Sakhir in Renault test

Jon Wilde
Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso has completed 93 laps of the Bahrain International Circuit in an R.S.18 as the build-up to his F1 return with Renault continues apace.

The two-time former World Champion had driven Renault’s current Formula 1 contender, the R.S.20, on a filming day in Barcelona three weeks ago when he completed the permitted 100km.

But in Sakhir, the Spaniard was able to get more distance under his belt as he prepares to return to the grid next year after two seasons away.

It was day one of a two-day test for Alonso in the 2018 Renault, which he was driving for the first time and will help him get up to speed ahead of next season’s campaign in which he will partner Esteban Ocon after Daniel Ricciardo’s move to McLaren.

Over the weekend, three of the young drivers in Renault’s Academy programme – Christian Lundgaard, Guanyu Zhou and Oscar Piastri – had also taken turns behind the wheel of an R.S. 18 at Sakhir, which stages two of the last three rounds of the F1 season at the International Circuit and its shorter ‘outer track’ on November 29 and December 6.

Get your hands on the official Renault 2020 collection via the Formula 1 store 

Alonso’s trip to Bahrain came just a few days after the 39-year-old spent Friday and Saturday at Imola with the Renault team, learning how they went about a race weekend during the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

In an interview at the Italian circuit Alonso admitted that when he returns to competitive action next year, he expects it to take “a couple of races” before he is fully up to speed.

Asked how long it will take him to get fully dialled in, he said: “Difficult to know now. I guess it will take a couple of races, to be honest, because the limited testing for next year will be a challenge for everyone, but a little bit more for me because I’m out of the car for two years.

“I think winter testing will be only one-and-a-half days and you cannot prepare a World Championship in a day-and-a-half. This is how it is. I will try to create on the simulator some things we need to save time on the real car for fine-tuning the set-up.

“It’s a new team, new steering wheel controls, new procedures, new engineers, a lot of new things that will require a bit of time, but I will try to make it as short as possible.”

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1, like our Facebook page and join us on Instagram!