Fernando Alonso will return to Formula One in 2021 as a driver for Renault, the team at which the Spaniard won his two world championships back in 2005 and 2006.
He’s set to drive alongside current Renault driver Esteban Ocon, replacing Daniel Ricciardo who leaves for McLaren next season.
In its announcement Wednesday, Renault didn’t say how long it signed Alonso but the deal is thought to be at least two years. The team is expected to tap Alonso’s decades of experience for development of a radically new F1 car to be introduced for the 2022 season.
Alonso left F1 at the end of the 2018 after a poor run at McLaren. Outside of his time at Renault, Alonso’s next best performance was at Ferrari where in 2012 he finished just three points behind Sebastian Vettel who was driving for Red Bull Racing at the time. Alonso was forced to retire twice that season due to accidents caused by other drivers, costing him crucial points.
Since leaving F1, Alonso has tried his hand at other forms of motorsport including the World Endurance Championship, where he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice, as well as IndyCar and the Dakar Rally.
Interestingly, his return to Renault next season will make him the first driver in F1 history to have had three separate stints at the same team. His first stint was from 2003-2006 and the second was from 2008-2009. And with 311 starts, there are just two drivers that have raced more in F1 than Alonso. They are Rubens Barrichello and Kimi Raikkonen, with 322 and 313 starts, respectively.