Fernando Alonso’s motivation ahead of his return to Formula 1 in 2021 has delivered a boost throughout the whole Renault team, according to executive director Marcin Budkowski.
Renault signed the double world champion to replace Daniel Ricciardo earlier this year, with the Australian joining McLaren in 2021. Alonso won both of his titles with Renault but hasn’t raced in F1 since 2018, and has been carrying out tests in a two-year-old car alongside the team’s academy drivers in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi in recent weeks to prepare for his return.
“He’s also done a filming day on the 2020 car so he’s taking every opportunity to drive,” Budkowski said. “We had tests planned for young drivers, for the academy, with the ’18 car so we just added some days to get Fernando to drive, so that was a good opportunity.
“He wants more days in the car to get used to the team, to get used to the systems, the procedures, to fine tune his seating position, the steering wheel, everything. But also he hasn’t driven the car for two years and they are bloody fast cars, and then he needs to get back in shape, get back in the rhythm, so he’s taking any opportunity he can to drive.”
After spending time with Alonso at Renault’s factory, what stands out to Budkowski is his motivation for the challenge, as the team looks to build on an encouraging season that has it fighting for third place in the constructors’ championship.
“In terms of his enthusiasm, in terms of his determination, he’s been at the factory, obviously, to do some seat fittings,” he said. “I took him round the factory to show him how things had changed since he was there in Enstone a number of years ago, and obviously a lot has changed since then, and his motivation is incredible.
“He’s really asking everybody, pushing and you spend a few minutes with him and straightaway you’re more motivated so it’s great for the staff to be exposed to someone like this who is not only a great champion, but also is so motivated for next year and the next years to come.”