• Fernando Alonso is to join Renault F1 next year.
• Alonso is aware that the team will be uncompetitive in 2021.
• Renault and Alonso will shift their focus to 2022.
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Formula 1 is readying for big things in 2021, especially the Renault F1 team.
A few weeks ago, Renault announced that Fernando Alonso would join their ranks next year as the team's new lead driver. Partnering with Esteban Ocon, Alonso would look to lead the team into the all-important 2022 season when new regulations come into effect.
Whether or not he has realised the true extent of what he let himself in for at Renault, Alonso has a mountain to climb leading up to 2022. Why? Because Renault's F1 car is extremely uncompetitive and a long way off a podium-finishing position.
Is that really what Alonso signed up for?
In 2005 and 2006, driving for the then-Renault team, Alonso won back-to-back championships. Back then, the team made the most of the technical regulations that saw it beat McLaren-Mercedes (2005) and Ferrari (2006). And the man leading the charge was Alonso. In 2007, Alonso joined McLaren, but a tumultuous stint saw him leave the team at the end of that year, only to join Renault again for 2008 and 2009 before signing with Ferrari (2010-2014).
Though victories were part of the package, Alonso could never claim another championship again. And when he signed with McLaren for 2015, he found himself fighting at the back of the field and often retiring from the race because of unreliability issues.
At the end of 2018, Alonso called time on his F1 career and departed from both McLaren and the sport. But he always said that he would return in 2021 when the new regulations would come into play; only with a team that could give him a winning car. However, the 2021 regulations have been pushed back by a year and next year's cars will be virtually unchanged from the 2020 machines.
Renault is not winning
The Renault F1 team is having a tough time. Not only is their car uncompetitive, but engine customer McLaren is beating them in the championship. Last year, the team concluded their season in fifth place - behind McLaren. This year, after three races, the team is sixth of the competing 10 teams.
Winning, for Renault, is not on the cards in 2020. And finishing on the podium also looks like a pipe dream that will not come to fruition. This trend will continue into 2021 and Alonso knows this. He has been keeping tabs on the sport and is acutely aware of the challenges that await him at Renault.
READ | Fernando Alonso says he should be judged against the stopwatch, not his age
Knowing Alonso, it won't take much for him to grow frustrated with the situation and voice his dissatisfaction publicly. Although, he said that a few years away from the sport assured him of who he was.
Perhaps Alonso is a different driver to the one who left at the end of 2018, because he advised Renault to shift its focus from 2020 and 2021 to 2022. In other words, Alonso is prepared to race for scraps next year, as long as a genuine effort is made to make the 2022 car as competitive as possible.
As it stands, Alonso will join Renault on a two-year contract, with the option to extend by another year. By the time the initial two-year deal expires, Alonso will be 41 years old.