The Renault that awaits Alonso

A mid-range car, a stable project, the 2022 rule change as the limit and Marcin Budkowski as the letter. It will be announced this Wednesday.


Fernando Alonso will be announced today as a Renault driver. During the winter, he was informed of his priority situation in the French team and since last Saturday it was announced that the transfer was close, although not yet closed, pending completion in the next few hours. The diamond house chooses you as a great leader on which to build your project for the next seasons and they have never hidden that the Asturian is their favorite. They should not convince him only with salary (a variable that is inevitably reduced by the economic crisis of the pandemic), also with expectations of results, because the two-time Spanish champion has already said in many ways that he does not plan to return to Formula 1 to go unnoticed on the grill.

How is Renault now? It has little to do with the block that made him win two titles in 2005 and 2006, but it is also not the downed team he ended up in 2008 and 2009, between his bad experience at McLaren and the signing by Ferrari. In front is Cyril Abiteboul, a pragmatic man who has been pointed out by some voices in the paddock due to lack of progression. The manufacturer bought back Lotus to return in 2016 and they have been recovering positions on the grid with budgets of around 230 million euros. There are familiar faces for Alonso. For example, Remi Taffin, who is the head of the power units and was his career engineer 15 years ago. Also Alain Permane, now sports director, who was part of the staff in the second period of the Asturian in Enstone. Or Pat Fry, technical director with whom he met at McLaren and Ferrari.

The car, Renault RS20, and teammate, Esteban Ocon

, reached fourth in 2018, fell to fifth against McLaren last year, but the most difficult step is always getting closer to the elite of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. The RS20, its car this season, improves half a second to its predecessor. The engine this year will have little news. They had an ambitious evolution planned for 2021, but the crisis may have postponed those plans. Very few chassis and engine changes will be allowed next year, only in aerodynamics, so the theoretical RS21 Alonso would find would fight for Q3 and points with points in the races, perhaps some podium loose.

Ricciardo leaves for McLaren, an exit that has hurt the hard core of Renault because his huge salary (about 20 million a year) has not translated into commitment. 23-year-old Esteban Ocon remains, a Frenchman formed by Mercedes who aspires to fight against the Verstappen, Leclerc, Sainz and company. He beat Mad Max at the 2014 F3 European, the one that led the Dutchman straight into Formula 1.

Medium-term expectations for success

The challenge at Renault is to take advantage of the profound regulatory change of 2022 and to fight again for victories and podiums thereafter. In their favor, economic independence (the French parent company has already confirmed the continuity of the project), facilities at the height of the best and a motor factory that they will not have to share. They have greatly reinforced top management with renowned engineers and signed Marcin Budkowski, who was head of the FIA technical department and has seen, analyzed and scrutinized each of his rivals' cars until then, as CEO. An asset in his favor.

Of course, on the grid there are three teams that can win races and at least four that plan to do so five years from now, such as McLaren or Racing Point, future Aston Martin. Will Renault be one of those who succeed? No one would have anticipated the successful Red Bull era or Mercedes' hybrid dominance a few years earlier, or that Toyota would leave F1 vacuum with the highest budget ever seen at the Grand Circus. Alonso will turn 39 at the end of this month and may be about to embark on the most difficult challenge of his career.

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