SPIELBERG, Austria — Although Fernando Alonso will be 39 when he returns to Formula One next season with Renault he feels his reflexes and racing craft will not weaken with age.
His widely anticipated F1 return was became official on Wednesday, when the French manufacturer announced that he will replace Daniel Ricciardo next year.
Alonso won both of his world titles with Renault way back in 2005 and ’06, but still looked sharp driving an uncompetitive car during his last season with McLaren in 2018 before walking away.
“The stopwatch is the only thing that matters, not the age,” he said Wednesday during a media session. “I never had a classification on the race based on the passport, my date of birth. It’s always on stopwatch. Hopefully we’re still fast.”
That remains to be seen considering Renault struggled last season, finishing fifth in the constructors’ championship and one place behind McLaren, the team it supplies engines to.
But he certainly feels in good enough shape to take up the challenge.
“I had to start very specific fitness preparations, I started in February, so now I’m 100%,” he said. “We did a couple of fitness tests 15 days ago and I had the best results ever in my career, so I’m extremely motivated, happy and stronger than ever.”
However, because of rule changes teams will use the same cars for 2021 and Alonso may not have a genuinely competitive car until 2022, when he will turn 41 in late July.
“I will try to do my best, and try and help the team be a world champion team. If that’s with me driving, fantastic but if that’s with a future younger driver, I will feel proud anyway,” he said. “I think the 2022 rules will hopefully bring some fairness to the