Alonso’s return unaffected by Abiteboul exit

Tom Rawcliffe
Fernando Alonso Alpine

Fernando Alonso Alpine PA

Fernando Alonso supported Renault’s decision to change their F1 management ahead of the 2021 season, which included Cyril Abiteboul’s exit.

Abiteboul had been with the team since 2014 and there was no indication he would be leaving, so the announcement in January 2021 caught everyone a little off guard.

His departure came as part of a reshuffle by CEO Luca de Meo, who has since put Davide Brivio, Laurent Rossi and Marcin Budkowski in new positions at the team now known as Alpine.

Before the restructuring, Alonso had already decided he was returning to the sport after two years away – and the two-time former World Champion has said he backed the decisions made, trusting De Meo was doing it for the good of the team.

Quoted by GPFans, Alonso said: “It’s true that last year Cyril was team principal and then [de Meo] has changed the management a bit, and you just try to work the best you can with all your bosses and try to help the team as much as you can.

“I felt okay last year with Cyril, I feel very good this year with the structure we have, so I think if the changes were made by the president, there was a reason behind it and we all support that decision.”

Fernando Alonso Alpine

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Alonso’s arrival filled the seat of departing Daniel Ricciardo, who is now at McLaren, and the Spaniard looked set to get off to a points-scoring start on his return to F1 in Bahrain but was forced to retire in unusual circumstances.

Since the announcement that he would be back this season, made in July 2020, he has spoken openly about one of the major factors in his return being his keenness to drive under the new regulations which will enter the sport in 2022, a year later than initially planned.

“I think the decision [to sign for Renault] was made in about March or April [2020], the last few conversations with [de Meo] and Cyril,” added Alonso.

“So it was before the championship had started. I remember clearly from Australia there was this comeback.

“The whole paddock came back from Australia and then the start of the season was delayed until Austria and it happened at that moment. It was a time for me that I thought ‘what could be my next challenge’ and F1 was the most attractive option.”

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