Fernando Alonso says he will “discover a lot” in his first laps driving Renault’s 2020 Formula 1 car in a filming day at Barcelona on Tuesday.
The two-time world champion is preparing for his F1 comeback after two seasons out.
He will replace McLaren-bound Daniel Ricciardo next year alongside Esteban Ocon and has already spent multiple days at Renault’s Enstone and Viry facilities, driving the simulator and having engineering meetings.
Renault had various options available to it to try to get Alonso some track time as he has not driven an F1 car since a McLaren test last year, and 2021 pre-season is expected to be limited to just three days.
The team has confirmed Alonso will drive the R.S.20 at Barcelona today with some suggestions it will have a 2018 car present as well.
Alonso will be limited to 100km in the 2020 car, driving on demonstration tyres, while 2018 cars can be driven without restrictions.
“It’s going to be an amazing feeling after two years not driving in Formula 1,” said Alonso.
“I’m really looking forward, it’s going to be like a new beginning. Getting surprised by the speed of the car, the braking performance, the cornering speed.
“I remember my first test with Benetton in 2000, it was at Barcelona. It will be the same circuit 20 years after that test.
“It’s going to be one of the last opportunities with the Renault brand because the name is going to change next year.
“Preparing for the test was not easy with the COVID preparations, it was not the normal preparation, not many days at the simulator. But nevertheless we are ready.
— Renault F1 Team (@RenaultF1Team) October 13, 2020
“It’s only 100km, it’s a filming day, so we will try to maximise those laps and try to get some images. I know I will learn and discover a lot of things in those first few laps.
“I will take it with an open approach and try to learn as much as possible in every kilometre.”
Renault had previously said Alonso was looking past 2021 and focusing on the chance it has with new technical rules in 2022.
However, team boss Cyril Abiteboul says Alonso’s attitude has changed as Renualt’s strong recent form has continued.
Renault has outscored every team except Mercedes over the last five races, developed the R.S.20 into arguably the third-fastest car in F1, and Daniel Ricciardo scored its long-awaited first podium at last Sunday’s Eifel Grand Prix.
“You would be impressed to measure his level of interest,” said Abiteboul when asked if Alonso had been in touch after the podium.
“I think that when he initially joined the team, and in his communication when we announced him, it was very much about 2022.
“The more the season is going and with the team’s progression, the car progression, the more he starts to be interested in 2021.
“Fernando is like a big shark. As soon as he starts to feel the blood he wants to attack. That’s what I see. I see our shark is very hungry.”