Apart from being brutally quick, tense, and intensely competitive, Formula 1 is also a fun place.
It’s not only down to the fact that with any sudden development, the sport gets enveloped in a rather jovial description like- ‘Silly Season!’
It’s down to the fact that often drivers end up predicting future events in a light-hearted manner, not realizing what they’re suggesting may happen for real.
Upon the completion of the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel worded a quick 2-second message for a noted on-track adversary.
“Goodbye, Fernando! See you when you are back.”
When the German recorded that message for the Spaniard, who would’ve taken the term ‘comeback’ seriously?
Today, two years after that brief message, Fernando Alonso is confirmed to race in the 2021 season.
The funny part is, it’s Sebastian Vettel, who doesn’t have a seat for next season, unless and until some miracle happens to change his predicament like a last-lap overtake or an extremely late lunge.
But you’d think F1 isn’t titled ‘silly season’ randomly; it’s down to the fact that one can never say ‘never’ in a contest where the unlikely becomes the order of the day.
The biggest news from the sporting world, one lighting up the social media stratosphere is that former double world champion Fernando Alonso is marking a comeback with 2021 season. The experienced racer is poised to begin a new chapter with Renault, a fierce midfielder in the current context, the very team with whom Alonso raised two world titles in his prime.
A brand new season. A new start. Is a lion keen to go on the prowl?
His last stint with Formula 1 did seem like unfinished business. From 2015 onward until 2018, Alonso endured what were four consecutive painstaking seasons with McLaren; the very team that today looks to have given both Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz Jr. a car that has a blitz of speed and a glimmer of hope.
Yet, make no mistake. It was Fernando Alonso, true to his fighting abilities who managed to extract something special with a recalcitrant machine that was utterly ‘undrivable’ on more occasions than not.
In 2016, Alonso drove himself to tenth on the Driver’s Championships, scoring 54, despite 3 race retirements. 2017 was a dismal run and perhaps the lowest ebb in his racing career, the driver ending seventeenth on the grid.
Yet, despite driving a car riddled with constant mechanical glitches and technical handicaps, it was Fernando Alonso’s genius that enabled McLaren to pull off some stunning feats, such as the posting the fastest lap of the Hungarian GP: the 1:20:182 on lap 69.
But 2018 would mark a recovery of sorts.
Alonso accumulating 50 points, the most for his team once again, although finding a legend of the sport ranked a lowly eleventh on the driver’s championship made for poor viewing.
So when El Nino returns in 2021, he’d hope to have a car that can do justice to his mighty talent and penchant to function at an unbending pace.
And there’s little doubt that Alonso will be in safe hands at the Cyril Abiteboul-led Renault, where he’s poised to partner another hungry driver who’s just made a comeback in 2020.
Can the Alonso-Ocon pairing deliver the goods for the French Constructor?
That’ll be the subject of immense intrigue and the focal point of many a fan’s attention in the new season. Already fighting the likes of Racing Point and McLaren, Renault are clearly involved in a three-way midfield tussle, the troika having better race pace than the likes of Alfa Romeo and Haas.
Just the kind of set-up and reliability that an experienced and successful name of the sport desires to fuel his ambitions of emerging with something meaningful in a high-octane comeback.
We’ll hopefully then see the Oviedo-born Fernando Alonso add to the tally that already sizzled with 22 poles, 23 fastest laps, 97 podiums, and 32 race wins.
Interestingly, Alonso’s hunger can be clearly gauged by his exploits away from F1, where he won the Le Mans 24 hours for a second consecutive time with Toyota and the overall WEC championship. Lest it is forgotten, he pushed himself even further to register an impressive debut at the DAKAR rally.
Now that he’s back, one can’t help but expect fireworks from a one-of-a-kind racer.