Fernando Alonso showed his whole old line to set the fastest time for Renault in the “young driver’s test” in Abu Dhabi.
Despite the label given to the post-season test contested by eight of the 10 F1 teams with cars this year, Alonso, 39, received a special waiver from the FIA to participate – along with fellow veterans Robert Kubica and Sebastien Buemi.
And Alonso, who will return to the network next year after two seasons away when Renault will be rebranded into the Alpine, has managed to overtake the Mercedes and Red Bull cars that were the class of the field during the 2020 season.
The Spaniard set the best lap of 1min 36.333sec in the afternoon, placing him fastest with 0.262sec from Formula E teammates Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne in the two Mercedes W11.
He was also 0.026 seconds faster than Alonso’s teammate 2021’s best moment, Esteban Ocon, for Renault in qualifying for Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Then came Kubica with a strong performance in Alfa Romeo, just ahead of Yuki Tsunoda, who is expected to be confirmed in second place AlphaTauri for 2021 instead of Daniil Kvyat.
But the slowest of all 15 runners was Mick Schumacher in Haas, even though his total of 126 laps was more than all but two of the others.
The appearance of Alonso as a two-time former world champion in the “young driver’s test” caused some consternation among Renault rivals, as Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel were not allowed to participate in the teams he joins next year.
Testing in Abu Dhabi … READY!
P1 // Fernando: 1: 36.333, 105 ture
P9 // Zhou: 1: 37.902, 98 ture
– Renault F1 Team (@ RenaultF1Team) December 15, 2020
Get your hands on the official Renault 2020 collection via the Formula 1 store
McLaren and Racing Point, which will become Aston Martin, did not participate, while Haas drove a single car driven by Schumacher, the 2021 F1 debutant.
It was the second time Alonso had driven a Renault 2020 on the right track, doing so earlier on a day of filming in Barcelona.
Buemi, who was driving at Red Bull, was among the drivers who ran the least due to an early accident.
The Swiss driver, who competed in F1 for Toro Rosso between 2009 and 2011, entered the barrier back in the RB16, damaging the rear wing.
He finished 12th overall, managing to fit 24 laps less than Juri Vips in the other Red Bull.
Vips was just behind Tsunoda in P6, 1.224 seconds slower than Alonso and one place ahead of Antonio Fuoco, who overtook Robert Shwartzman in the Ferrari-led duo.
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