Fernando Alonso is making his highly anticipated return to the Formula 1 grid for the 2021, with Alpine, but will it yield any success?
Alonso admitted that his chances at a podium are certainly ‘slim’ and any opportunity that arises for him to claim a top-three spot would come from any mistake by the often leading Mercedes cars, or other miscellaneous circumstances.
The Spaniard is prepared for a Mercedes-dominant 2021 season but has his main focus set on the 2022 regulations and his campaign with Alpine.
He has voiced his 2021 season publicly – it will be a season based around settling into the team and getting up to speed with the new car.
Alonso’s Previous Successes:
Significant success for Alonso in F1 came well over a decade ago, when he won his back-to-back world titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006.
He has come close to winning a third title on multiple occasions since, but has never managed to reclaim that top spot.
However, he has his sights set on a 2022 title push with Alpine. This could secure the third world title of his career if the new regulations reign in the front end of the field to create a close fight for the overall title.
Alpine may just be taking over where Renault left off as a rebadge, but they will have their own team priorities and specific way of doing things that could potentially harm Alonso’s optimistic goals.
Renault has had multiple podiums over the course of the 2020 season with the car under the control of both Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon.
Having had both drivers on the podium this year, the future is looking bright for the newly branded Alpine team despite the changes in staff and order of running procedures.
Whether or not the Alpine team are legitimate title contenders in 2022 is down to how well Alonso and Ocon can work together to create the development program over the course of the year.
So far, Alonso made appearances at several races with the team simply as an onlooker last year.
That early presence added to his three main outings in an F1 car (twice in the 2018 car, once in the 2020 car for the post-season test).
Speaking after the post-season test, he said:
“It was good and very nice to be back in the car especially with the race team.
“I’ve been testing the 2018 car in preparation but this one felt a bit more serious and it ignited a little bit the competitive spirit. It was great to feel the modern cars and experience what they can do.”
He set the fastest time of that day at a 1m36.333s in the RS20, sampling Pirelli’s medium and soft compounds for the 105 laps he completed in Abu Dhabi.
He describes his return to the French manufacturer as one of emotion and unfinished business after his past narrative where at least three further titles have escaped his grasp.
The team’s synergy and ability to adjust for Alonso’s arrival is going to be key for setting up for a strong fight in 2021 against the already competitive midfield competition.
And ultimately, a push for the drivers’ (and perhaps the teams’) title may be on the cards in 2022.
The Team’s History:
The team first competed in Formula one back in 1981 under the name ‘Toleman’.
The team would eventually be bought out by Benetton and in 1994 and 1995 where Michael Schumacher would lead the team to two consecutive drivers championships. By 2000, the team had moved to Enstone and had been bought by Renault.
It would take five years for the team to see success again but in 2005 and 2006, Fernando Alonso would supply them with another two consecutive drivers championships under the brand name of Renault.
Lotus Cars would become a sponsor in 2011, where the team would race under their name Lotus until 2015.
Renault then took the team back after an unsuccessful run in 2016 where they are now turning the team back to Alpine for 2021.
So will Alonso realistically push for the title in 2022?
Can Alpine provide a team and a car that’s worthy of the title fight?
The answers remain only hypotheticals until we get to see how Alonso well and truly performs after his two year absence from F1.
Alonso will have to push the team and the car development to their limit, and he’ll need a lot of help from his much younger teammate Esteban Ocon to show the true potential of this team.