Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul has publicly thanked the FIA for allowing Fernando Alonso to take part in the end-of-season young driver test.
Alonso, 39, has been granted a special dispensation to participate in the one-day test in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday December 15, two days after the 2020 F1 season has drawn to a close.
It will be the latest step in the two-time World Champion’s preparations for his comeback to the grid next year with Renault, whom he is joining for a third spell as the replacement for McLaren-bound Daniel Ricciardo. The team is to be rebranded as Alpine for 2021.
The Spaniard will join Renault test driver and F2 competitor Guanyu Zhou behind the wheel of the cars in which Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon have been contesting this year’s World Championship.
The FIA giving Alonso the green light for the young driver test is sure to irk some of Renault’s rivals, with Abiteboul having said some teams were playing a “little game” to try to block the move.
“We would like to thank the FIA and F1 for their acceptance of our test plans, made in recognition of our commitment to young drivers throughout junior motorsport and to Fernando’s own dedication to furthering the careers of young talents,” said Renault team principal Abiteboul.
“Zhou has experienced the benefit of the Renault Sport Academy, having joined its ranks last year. He has worked hard and made a genuine contribution to the performance of the team through his work in the simulator and test programme. I am delighted he can drive the R.S.20 to complement his journey so far.
“For Fernando, this will be the next step in his return. He has worked tirelessly to make sure he is as ready as he possibly can be for 2021. He wants to contribute fully – not just to the team, but to the fans and the sport he has missed in the past two years.”
Alonso’s last F1 race was in Abu Dhabi for McLaren at the end of the 2018 campaign, finishing 11th.
Since then, he has been competing in other motorsport categories, winning the Le Mans 24-Hour Race for a second time, the Daytona 24 Hours and the World Endurance Championship, while also participating in the Indianapolis 500 and the Dakar Rally.
Having driven this year’s Renault on a filming day at Barcelona, Alonso has subsequently got hundreds more valuable laps under his belt in the 2018 car with two-day sessions in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain.