Fernando Alonso showed all his old ability to set the fastest time for Renault in the “test for young drivers” in Abu Dhabi.
Despite the label awarded to the post-season test run by eight of the 10 F1 teams with this year’s cars, Alonso, 39, received a special waiver from the FIA to participate, along with fellow veterans Robert Kubica and Sebastien Buemi .
And Alonso, who will be back on the grid next year after two seasons away when Renault is renamed Alpine, was able to overtake the Mercedes and Red Bull cars that were the field class during the 2020 season.
The Spaniard set a best lap of 1min 36.333sec in the afternoon, taking him 0.262sec faster than Formula E team mates Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne in the two Mercedes W11s.
He was also 0.026 seconds faster than Alonso’s 2021 teammate Esteban Ocon’s best time for Renault in qualifying for Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Then came Kubica with a good performance on Alfa Romeo, ahead of Yuki Tsunoda who should be confirmed in AlphaTauri’s second place for 2021 in place of Daniil Kvyat.
But the slowest of all 15 riders was Mick Schumacher on the Haas, even though his total of 126 laps was more than all but two of the other riders.
Alonso’s appearance as a two-time former world champion in the ‘young driver test’ had caused some consternation among Renault rivals as Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel were not allowed to participate for the teams they will join next year.
Test in Abu Dhabi… DONE!
P1 // Fernando: 1: 36.333, 105 laps
P9 // Zhou: 1: 37.902, 98 turns
– Renault F1 Team (@ RenaultF1Team) December 15, 2020
Get your hands on the official Renault 2020 collection via the Formula 1 shop
McLaren and Racing Point, which will become Aston Martin, did not take part, while Haas drove only one car driven by 2021 F1 rookie Schumacher.
It was only Alonso’s second time driving the 2020 Renault on track, having previously done so on a day of filming in Barcelona.
Buemi, who was driving for Red Bull, was among the drivers who had the fewest laps due to an early crash.
The Swiss driver, who raced in F1 with Toro Rosso between 2009 and 2011, went back against the barrier with his RB16, damaging the rear wing.
He finished in 12th place overall after being able to return in 24 laps less than Juri Vips in the other Red Bull.
Vips was just behind Tsunoda in P6, 1.224sec slower than Alonso and one place ahead of Antonio Fuoco who overtook Robert Shwartzman in the duo driving the Ferrari.
Follow us on Twitter @ Planet_F1 and like ours Facebook page