While there was plenty of drama on track during the first race of the revised 2020 Formula 1 calendar in Austria, the same can be said of what’s happening off track as well. With several driver changes revealed just a few months ago, Renault has dropped another bombshell by announcing the return of Fernando Alonso to its driver line-up for the 2021 season.

The Spaniard will partner up with Esteban Ocon, filling up the slot that was left vacant by Daniel Ricciardo, who will drive for McLaren next year. Alonso previously drove for McLaren for four years (2015-2018) before leaving Formula 1 at the end of the 2018 season after not finding much success while with the team.

Prior to that, he spent five seasons at Ferrari (2010-2014) and seven years at Renault (2008-2009 and 2002-2006), with a single-year stint at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes in 2007 and his rookie year was with Minardi in 2001. Alonso’s success in Formula 1 mostly came during his time in Renault, with two back-to-back championship wins in 2005 and 2006.

More recently, between 2018 up until now, he dabbled in several other racing series, including the IndyCar Series, WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Dakar Rally. He also spent some time with the Toyota Gazoo Racing team (TGR-Europe), winning the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) as well as securing first place finishes in both the 2018 and 2019 editions of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“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. The strength of the bond between him, the team and the fans make him a natural choice. In addition to past successes, it is a bold mutual choice as well as a project for the future,” said Cyril Abiteboul, managing director of Renault Sport Racing.

“His experience and determination will enable us to get the best out of each other to take the team towards the excellence that modern Formula 1 demands. He will also bring to our team, which has grown very fast, a culture of racing and winning to overcome hurdles together,” he added.

“Renault is my family, my fondest memories in Formula One with my two world championship titles, but I’m now looking ahead. 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 and which now gives me the opportunity to return to the highest level,” commented Alonso.

“I have principles and ambitions in line with the team’s project. Their 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,” he continued.