Fernando Alonso has opened up further about the visit he made to the Renault factory this week – describing it as being like “a first day at school”.
The Spaniard is preparing for his return to the F1 driver ranks next season, re-joining the team with whom he captured the World Championship in 2005 and 2006 for a third spell.
On Tuesday, Alonso tweeted a photo of himself at the factory in Enstone, describing it as an “incredible thrill” to be back at a place he knows extremely well and “a very special day”.
Una emoción increíble volver a la fabrica. Llegué a Renault en el 2002, con 21 años, conozco cada rincón de este sitio, cada pasillo, cada puerta…
— Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) September 21, 2020
Now, more details have emerged of the visit as the 39-year-old begins to re-integrate himself into a team where he will partner Esteban Ocon following Daniel Ricciardo’s departure to McLaren at the end of 2020.
Renault confirmed Alonso had been not only to Enstone but the Viry-Chatillon site in France for the first time in over 10 years.
The team revealed Alonso had completed a full day in the on-site driver-in-the-loop simulator, a seat fit and engineering meetings with team technical management, plus a visit to the wind-tunnel to see progress for next year.
He then flew to Paris to catch up with Renault engine technicians at Viry as he visited the dynos and engine build workshops at the French site.
“Being back at Enstone was a very good experience, they were very emotional days,” said Alonso.
“A lot of things have changed – the simulator is new, the wind-tunnel has been updated, but a few things are the same. There are the same offices, the gym that I used to visit a lot.
“It was a like a first day at school, with lots of things to learn and get through, but it was very productive.
“I’ve followed a programme in the simulator, getting used to the car a little, testing the facilities – the last time I was here the simulator didn’t exist!
“Then I had a seat fit and meetings with key people to understand the programme for next year. It was really just getting up to speed.”
Alonso believes the team, which will be rebranded as Alpine for 2021, has every chance of being competitive albeit the new regulations in 2022 offer a better opportunity.
“I think the team is in good shape for the future,” he added. “The last few races were encouraging for everyone, for myself too.
“To see Renault back in a competitive manner is a good thing for the sport and I’ve been delighted to see the improvements.
“We’ve still got a long way to go and the midfield is very tight but I think the guys have done an amazing job trackside.
“The last couple of races were very exciting to watch and I am looking forward to being back in the mix.
“I’ll now follow what the team needs from my side – some sim days, helping some weekends and being available for the team for anything they need.”