Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul says the team’s push for Fernando Alonso to test in Abu Dhabi was “a human thing” as he builds up preparations for his Formula 1 return.
Abiteboul says Alonso has been determined to run as many miles as possible as he reacquaints with the team he last drove for in 2009.
Having already run in a 100km filming day in the current car in Barcelona, as well as four days in a 2018 model with demo tyres, the two-time F1 world champion will take part in the Abu Dhabi post-season test next Tuesday.
Next year all teams are restricted to just three days of testing with their 2021 cars, split between both drivers, making it tougher for anyone joining a new team.
The FIA’s decision to allow Alonso to run next week in what was originally supposed to be solely a young driver test has upset some rivals.
“I appreciate that there’s been lots of buzz around that,” said Abiteboul. “We started the year with some controversy, we finish the year with another type of controversy, but it’s good, it keeps the sport alive also.
“It’s very much a human thing that we’re doing for Fernando, when Fernando decided to come back to F1, he has been very clear that he wanted to have as much mileage as possible under his belt before next year.
“The regulations put a clear limit into that. So we’ve done quite a lot, four days, with the two-year-old car. And also, we thought it would be a nice thing to be able to do that with a current car. And we asked frankly and FIA has approved it, as simple as that.”
Abiteboul says Alonso could only learn so much from his running with the 2018 model.
“It will be an opportunity for him to see the evolution in two years. Because a two-year-old car, with also a detuned engine, with demo tyres that are not really representative, is good. But that would be much more representative of what to expect next year.
“The car will be changing more than people tend to report for next year, with a small change to the aerodynamics, which is something that we can’t test next week. So that would be the same for everyone.
“For the rest it’s about him getting into the team, understanding our process, our procedures, steering wheels, and also getting familiar with this engineers.
“I understand that the dynamic is already very, very good [and] very, very strong, [so] we want to have as much as possible a good start next year, bearing in mind that we have only three days of winter testing.”
Abiteboul also felt it is the right time for the team to take a driver of Alonso’s stature, as it builds up to the new regulations in 2022.
“I would connect the driver line-up to the team situation. And there’s no point having a driver line-up that is inappropriate for where you stand as a team.
“As far Renault is concerned, we feel extremely comfortable with our line-up next year given, the situation of the team, what it needs to achieve, the mix of experience with Fernando, his desire to come back and his ability to plan ahead.
“Fernando knows that the only way to win is to plan in advance, and to build in advance. And 2021 being a particular year where we need to balance our effort between ’21 and ’22.
“We have, together with Fernando, an eye on ’22. And he understands that, and he will be completely part of that process and of that journey.”
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