Renault has received approval from the FIA to run 39-year-old Fernando Alonso in the Young Driver Test that follows the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Originally planned as a 2021 tire test, cost-cutting measures related to the pandemic led to the test being shortened to one day and restricted to young drivers that had started fewer than two Formula 1 races. Teams are allowed to run two cars, and after lobbying the FIA to be able to run Alonso alongside Guanyu Zhou as the Spaniard prepares to return to the sport after two seasons out, Renault has gained approval from the sport’s governing body.
“We would like to thank the FIA and F1 for their acceptance of our test plans, made in recognition of our commitment to young drivers throughout junior motorsport and to Fernando’s own dedication to furthering the careers of young talents,” Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul said.
“Zhou has experienced the benefit of the Renault Sport Academy, having joined its ranks last year. He has worked hard and made a genuine contribution to the performance of the team through his work in the simulator and test program. I am delighted he can drive the R.S.20 to complement his journey so far.
“For Fernando, this will be the next step in his return. He has worked tirelessly to make sure he is as ready as he possibly can be for 2021. He wants to contribute fully – not just to the team, but to the fans and the sport he has missed in the past two years.”
A number of other teams were known to be against such a move, with the likes of McLaren and opting against taking part in the test based on the fact neither team had a suitable young driver to run. With confirmation that teams could have lobbied for more experienced drivers to appear having come so late, those plans cannot be changed before the test on December 15.