Renault think Fernando Alonso is at a disadvantage compared to other drivers as the pair reunite for the 2021 season.
Alonso has spent two full seasons away from Formula 1 after leaving McLaren at the end of the 2018 season but, in 2021, he will be back for one last crack with the team he has won two World Championship titles with in 2005 and 2006.
The Spaniard has been building up to his return in 2020 with frequent factory visits and using every possible opportunity to try and get some Formula 1 mileage back under his belt again.
He has stepped inside the 2018 Renault car and most recently in the 2020 model in the so-called Young Drivers’ Test following the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
But, with a reduced, three-day pre-season testing schedule on the way, Renault still believe Alonso is going to be behind in terms of preparation compared to others.
Renault’s Formula 1 director, Marcin Budkowski, was asked whether Alonso’s inclusion in that test – the FIA granted him special dispensation – gave him an advantage ahead of his return for 2021, but he disagreed with that assessment.
— Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) December 20, 2020
“I think you mean how much less of a disadvantage does he have? Because he hasn’t been driving for two years,” Budkowski said, as quoted by Motorsport.com.
“I understand that for Carlos [Sainz] or Daniel [Ricciardo] changing teams next year and getting accustomed to a different team is tricky.
“There’s lots to learn, different ways of working, different engineer, but in the case of Fernando he hasn’t been driving for two years at all.
“So, this is why we’re trying to give him some track time and also some track time on the 2018 car just to get him back in the rhythm, get him back in the physical condition, the neck and things like this, which he needs.
“Yes, it’s going to be tricky for Fernando to get used to the car in one and a half days of testing, but I think even more so because he hasn’t driven for so long.”