The rumours have spread like a veld fire: Fernando Alonso is, reportedly, on his way back to Formula 1 in 2021.
The Spaniard called time on his F1 career at the end of the 2018 season after an unsuccessful second spell with McLaren. Following his exit, Alonso tried his hand at various motorsport codes, including Le Mans, Indy Car, and Dakar.
Alonso didn't mince his words throughout 2019, saying that he would be open to a return to F1 come 2021, when the new regulations come into play. But, he said, it would have to be with a competitive team; one that can give him a car that can challenge for podiums and race wins.
Sadly, the top teams - Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull - have made it clear that they will not sign Alonso, and McLaren also closed the door on an Alonso-return.
However, it seems as if Alonso may return to the sport next year with Renault; the team he won his two championships with in 2005 and 2006. And while the 2021 regulations have been pushed back to 2022, does Alonso have a fighting chance at being competitive next year?
Fernando Alonso. Image: AFP / Andrej Isakovic
Wheels24 readers respond to a scenario of Alonso returning to the sport with Renault.
Chriso van Staden: "I think it would not only be a good fit, but also fantastic for F1 as a whole. I can't wait to see Fernando on the grid."
Andrew Evans: "Fernando Alonso is one of the best drivers never to have won more F1 titles. I believe that if Alonso had been in the Ferrari between 2017 and 2019, he would have stopped Lewis Hamilton from winning so many championships. If Renault gives him the car, there's nothing stopping him from winning with them once again. Fingers crossed he comes back and makes F1 interesting again."
Steve Smith: "Yes, Alonso is the right choice and has the best history with Renault."
Fernando Alonso. Image: Getty Images
While it will be pretty amazing to see everyone's favourite Spaniard return to the grid, it is highly unlikely that Alonso will be fighting for podiums and race wins from the get-go. Renault is not a very strong team and looks to be fighting in the midfield; at least until the end of 2021.
When the new regulations come into play, both Alonso and Renault will hope that the new car will be able to take on the top three teams (top four if McLaren manages to pull a rabbit from the hat). If Renault fails to be competitive in 2022, it can be assumed that both the team and Alonso will bid farewell to F1, and perhaps take their relationship to Formula E; with Alonso still allowed to pursue other motoring codes.
But if Alonso does return next year, he and Renault need to have an open relationship with open channels of communication on where things stand and what the rate of progression is. If not, there is no chance of the reunion working.Fernando Alonso. Image: Boris Horvat / AFP