Fernando Alonso showed all his old step to set the fastest time for Renault in the “young driver test” in Abu Dhabi.
Despite the label given to the postseason test contested by eight of the 10 F1 teams with this year’s cars, 39-year-old Alonso received a special ban from the FIA to participate – along with fellow veterans Robert Kubica and Sebastien Buemi.
And Alonso, who will return to the grid next year after two seasons away when Renault will be renamed Alpine, was able to surpass the Mercedes and Red Bull cars that were the class of the field during the 2020 season.
The Spaniard achieved a best lap of 1min 36.333 sec in the afternoon, putting him fastest at 0.262 sec of the Formula E Nyck classmates of Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne in the two Mercedes W11.
It was also 0.026 sec faster than the best time of Alonso’s 2021 teammate Esteban Ocon for Renault in qualifying for the Sunday Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Later Kubica came with strong performance in the Alfa Romeo, just ahead of Yuki Tsunoda, who is expected to be confirmed in the second AlphaTauri chair for 2021 instead of Daniil Kvyat.
But the slowest of all 15 runners was Mick Schumacher in the Haas, although his total of 126 laps was more than all but two of the other drivers.
Alonso’s appearance as a two-time former world champion in the “young driver test” caused some consternation among Renault’s rivals, as Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel were not allowed to compete for the teams they join next year.
Tested in Abu Dhabi … DONE!
P1 // Fernando: 1: 36.333, 105 laps
P9 // Zhou: 1: 37.902, 98 laps
– Renault F1 Team (@ RenaultF1Team) December 15, 2020
Get your hands on the official Renault 2020 collection via the Formula 1 store
McLaren and Racing Point, which will become Aston Martin, did not participate, while Haas drove only one car driven by the 2021 F1 rookie Schumacher.
It was only the second time Alonso had driven the Renault 2020 on the road, having previously done so during a filming day in Barcelona.
Buemi, who was driving for Red Bull, was among the drivers who ran less due to an early crash.
The Swiss racer, who competed in F1 for Toro Rosso between 2009 and 2011, went back into the barrier in his RB16, damaging the rear wing.
He finished 12th overall being able to enter 24 rounds less than Juri Vips in the other Red Bull.
Vips was just behind Tsunoda in P6, 1,224 seconds slower than Alonso and one place ahead of Antonio Fuoco, who overtook Robert Shwartzman in the duo driving for Ferrari.
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