17 Jul 2020

ALONSO RETURNS! – WHAT NEXT FOR VETTEL?

Back in May before we had the all clear to go racing, we reported that Fernando Alonso may be returning to Formula 1. Last week it was confirmed that the double World Champion has signed a multi-year deal with the Renault Formula 1 team. The signing with the team that brought him his two titles in 2005 and 2006 shows that Renault are planning to stay in the sport, quelling any questions to the contrary for now.

Bringing in Alonso is a huge boost for the team having recently lost Daniel Ricciardo to McLaren. It’s unquestionable that a driver of his quality with the ability to drive quick, get the most from the car, and also develop it further, is exactly what the team needs to lift them from the upper-midfield and onwards to podium finishes. Some have speculated that the money spent on bringing the veteran back could have been better allocated to improving the car but the personal brand that Alonso brings along with new potential sponsorship opportunities is considered by many to be far more important for the team.

Renault F1 team principal and managing director Cyril Abiteboul said: ‘He will also bring to our team, which has grown very fast, a culture of racing and winning.’

However, some criticism has headed the way of Renault for their decision not to utilise one of their academy drivers. This has led some to ask what the future holds for the academy system. While Renault has two drivers, Christian Lundgaard and Guanyu Zhou, waiting in the wings, neither academy driver has enough Super Licence points yet to make the step upto F1. Along with this, the opportunity for Renault to gain all the benefits of bringing Alonso in and the familiarity with the team, is something they perhaps cannot afford to pass up.

Looking to the future and the 2022 season is certainly what is on the cards for Renault as many new rule changes previously planned for 2021 will be taking effect. The new rules are expected to bring the teams closer together and seeing as the former world champion has said in the past he would not return to F1 unless he thought the car was capable of winning, expectations are set high for Renault to be more competitive in 2022. This also seems to be the case for Alonso as he has said in interviews to ‘Forget 2021. Not that we can [Sic] be good then, but it’s all about 2022.’

This deal has also made things very uncomfortable elsewhere on the grid as options for Sebastian Vettel are disappearing fast. The four-time World Champion reportedly held talks with Renault, but his recent performances coupled with losing this seat to Alonso is doing nothing to help his stock.

Vettel has not long ago admitted that he is in ‘loose talks’ with Racing Point. If this move was to happen, it would be at the expense of Sergio Perez, as it’s unlikely that the team would terminate the services of Lance Stroll with his father’s consortium owning a 20% stake of the team.

If Racing point decide to go an alternative route or negotiations fall through, we could see the Ferrari driver being forced to take a year away from Formula 1. Although he has said in interviews that he feels no pressure to make a decision on a team, it’s clear he does still want to be driving next year, so his laissez faire comments could be just a clever negotiation tactic. In either scenario, the truth is that being unable to take this seat at Renault means that future in F1 for is very uncertain for Vettel at this point in time.

JDC is looking forward to welcoming everyone back to Formula 1 in 2021 for what is expected to be a very exciting and closely run season. If you’d like to experience any of the races on the 2021 calendar, then take a look at our Paddock Club™ hospitality packages or contact JDC Promotions and let us build a bespoke package for you and your guests.

Avatar

ccooper

Formula 1 Correspondent