Alonso
Alonso won his world titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006

Double Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso will return to the sport next year with Renault.

The Spaniard, 39 later this month, left F1 at the end of 2018 but always kept the door open for a potential return.

He will be returning to the team for whom he won his two titles in 2005 and 2006.

“It’s a great source of pride and with an immense emotion I’m returning to the team that gave me my chance at the start of my career,” he said.

Alonso added that Renault’s “progress this winter gives credibility to the objectives for the 2022 season and I will share all my racing experience with everyone from the engineers to the mechanics and my team-mates.

“The team wants and has the means to get back on the podium, as do I.”

Renault F1 team principal and managing director Cyril Abiteboul said: “The signing of Fernando Alonso is part of Groupe Renault’s plan to continue its commitment to F1 and to return to the top of the field.

“His presence in our team is a formidable asset on the sporting level but also for the brand to which he is very attached.”

Alonso has signed for at least two years and there are options for him to continue beyond that.

He will partner the Frenchman Esteban Ocon, as a replacement for Daniel Ricciardo, who is moving to McLaren.

Alonso is likely to have to accept that he will not be competitive in 2021 as F1 teams will have to use their 2020 cars next year, with minimal development, as a result of rule changes introduced because of the coronavirus crisis.

But Renault hope that major rule changes in 2022, aimed at bringing the field closer together, will give them an opportunity to move closer to the front.

In addition to his two world titles, Alonso is the sixth most successful driver in F1 history in terms of wins with 32.

He is regarded as one of the greatest racing drivers in the history of the sport.

After leaving F1 at the end of 2018, Alonso has become a two-time winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours, adding victory in 2019 to his first win in 2018, won the world endurance championship and also competed in this year’s Dakar Rally.

He has set himself the target of winning motorsport’s so-called triple crown, for which he needs to add only the Indy 500 to the Monaco Grand Prix and Le Mans victories he has already achieved.

Alonso starred on his debut at Indy in 2017, driving a McLaren-branded car run by Andretti Autosport.

But a second attempt last year with a newly established McLaren team ended in embarrassment, after he failed to qualify because of what the team admitted were a series of organisational failures.

He is returning to America’s biggest race this year with McLaren, on the delayed date of 23 August.

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