Fernando Alonso drives Renault’s F1 2020 car for the first time

Fernando Alonso has driven Renault’s current car for the first time in a filming day at Barcelona in what marks as a significant ramp-up of the Spaniard’s preparations for his F1 comeback with the team next year.

For the first time since testing a McLaren-Renault in April 2019, Alonso is back in F1 machinery for one of Renault’s permitted filming days of the year driving their 2020 car, the RS20, which finished on the podium for the first time at the Eifel GP on Sunday.

Install lap ✅ ‘Box box Fernando’. #RSspirit pic.twitter.com/c51NCgARzl

Alonso, who last drove a Renault F1 car in 2009, is returning to the sport next year for a third stint with the team he won his two world titles with after two seasons off the grid.

“Returning behind the wheel is going to be an amazing feeling,” said Alonso in a video released ahead of Tuesday’s running at the Circuit de Catalunya, his home track.

“You know, after two years not driving a Formula 1, I’m really looking forward.

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“I think it’s going to be like a new beginning. Getting surprised about the speed of the car, the braking performance and corner speed. A lot of things will surprise me once again and I’m looking forward [to it].”

The impact of the Covid-19 crisis on F1 means that, in a cost-saving regulation change, teams have to carry over their current chassis into the following season for the first time.

Alonso’s run in the RS20 is therefore his first drive in the same car he will essentially be racing in 2021.

Loving the special test helmet for @alo_oficial 💯. He’s been using it for the last two years but it will be very different next year.#RSspirit pic.twitter.com/F65YrpwqZM

The Spaniard has worked towards the test with time in the team’s simulator at their Oxfordshire base in recent weeks.

“Preparing for this test was not easy,” said the 39-year-old. “I think with the Covid restrictions it was not the normal preparations, not many days at the simulator, but nevertheless I think we are ready.

“It’s only 100km, it’s a filming day, so we will try to maximise those laps. I know I will learn and discover a lot of things in those.”

The Barcelona outing comes 20 years after a 19-year-old Alonso first drove for the team on the same circuit, when it was known as Benetton.

The Enstone team is rebranding again next year with the outfit to be known as Alpine, Renault’s performance sportscar brand. Alonso has been signed to replace Daniel Ricciardo, who is joining McLaren.

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