F1: Fernando Alonso is the ‘Godfather’ at Alpine, says Renault chief

After two years away from the sport, the Spaniard is back and has rejoined the team where he began his Formula One career

Alex Pattle
Tuesday 13 April 2021 15:59
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Fernando Alonso has returned to Formula One and Renault – now Alpine – this season
Fernando Alonso has returned to Formula One and Renault – now Alpine – this season

Fernando Alonso is the “Godfather of everybody” at Alpine F1, according to Renault CEO Luca de Meo.

Alonso won two world championships with the team in 2005 and 2006 when they were still known as Renault, returning in 2008 after a spell with McLaren.

The Spaniard then drove for Ferrari before rejoining McLaren, and his journey in Formula One has now come full circle with his return to his first team – known as Alpine from the start of the 2021 season – after two years away from the sport.

“Renault is Fernando’s home, but I want him to use his experience to help us all grow,” De Meo told Top Gear.

“He has a different role to the one from 15 years ago. He’s the Godfather of everybody.

“The only thing I’m asking him is to help us become a top team, because it’s about attitude and mindset. And he has it.”

Alonso, 39, did not finish in the season opener in Bahrain last month as Mercedes’ defending champion Lewis Hamilton edged Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to victory, but De Meo is keeping faith in his driver and his team.

“I’m not a magician, I don’t have a crystal ball,” he said, “[but] my expectation is that we get better and better every race. The real challenge will start in 2022, which doesn’t mean we want to have a poor season in 2021.

“We have Fernando, who wants to win all the time, and [team-mate] Esteban [Ocon] is young and doesn’t want to waste his time being stuck at the back of the grid.

“We need to give the drivers good service as a team. Alonso? Well we know he’s not a rookie. The feedback I had [from the Bahrain test] was that it took him about 10 laps to get to the limit of the car and start saying: ‘This or that doesn’t work.’ He gets it immediately.

“Our focus is to actually give him a car where he can have fun. And then you never know what happens in a Grand Prix, right? Maybe we need to be a little bit lucky, but we’ll be doing everything we can for him and for Esteban.”

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