Fernando Alonso revealed that setting the fastest time in the Abu Dhabi post-season test had “ignited the competitive spirit”.
The two-time former World Champion, who will turn 40 next July, was granted a special dispensation by the FIA to take part in the ‘young driver test’ along with fellow veterans Robert Kubica and Sebastien Buemi.
With a total of 15 cars running at Yas Marina, it meant Alonso was able to compare himself alongside a couple of his rivals from a decade ago as well as the next generation of talent which is hoping to follow in his wheeltracks by capturing the F1 drivers’ title.
And the Spaniard did so with flying colours as he clocked a best lap of 1min 36.333sec for Renault in the afternoon, putting him fastest by 0.262sec from Formula E team-mates Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne in the two Mercedes W11s.
“It was good and very nice to be back in the car, especially with the race team,” said Alonso, who will return to the grid next season after two years away when Renault are rebranded as Alpine.
“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. It was great to feel the modern cars and experience what they can do.”
— Renault F1 Team (@RenaultF1Team) December 15, 2020
Alonso has been getting himself increasingly integrated with the Renault team at recent races, including last weekend when he also gave his 2005 World Championship-winning car a spin.
“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,” he added.
“We signed off lots of basic things that 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.”
Alonso completed 105 laps of Yas Marina in what was only his second time driving the 2020 Renault on track, having previously done so on a filming day in Barcelona.
The other Renault was driven by Formula 2 racer Guanyu Zhou, who fitted in seven fewer laps than Alonso having had a spin at turn 19 during the morning session which briefly delayed his programme.