Here’s Proof That Fernando Alonso Can Still Thrash His First Title-Winning Renault F1 Car
It was 15 years that Alonso last drove the 19,000-rpm Renault R25 in fury, but he’s not forgotten how.
When last we saw Fernando Alonso behind the wheel of the Renault R25, he was 24, and on the cusp of winning the first of two Formula 1 championships. That was 15 years ago, and since then, Alonso has left Renault, returned, left again, spent a troublesome few years at Ferrari and McLaren, and eventually bowed out from F1 after a hard-fought 2018 season. But in 2021, Alonso will once again return to Renault, which will rebrand itself Alpine. To warm Alonso back up for his final shot at F1, Renault reintroduced the Spaniard to an old friend: his former R25 race car.
Renault Sport F1 gave Alonso a brief spin in the R25 between practice sessions for this weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where Renault drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon will try to wrest fourth in the constructors' championship from McLaren, if not third from Racing Point. With Ricciardo migrating to McLaren next season, though, and Alonso stepping in to fill his shoes, the Spaniard needs every available second of practice to get back up to speed, some of which he found by beating the snot out of his first title-winning car.
Alonso would've felt a familiarity with the Renault's 3.0-liter naturally aspirated V10, which revs to 19,000 rpm and produces over 900 horsepower. The Spaniard, however, would've also experienced some alien handling characteristics on the modern Pirelli slicks, as the R25 originally raced with grooved Michelins that gave the Renault unusual, but exploitable handling characteristics. Nevertheless, Alonso showed nothing but confidence in the R25, tossing it through corners, and even manipulating twitches of oversteer.
Alonso's full lap can be seen on F1's YouTube channel, which prohibits embeds, so we can't play it for you here. Whether you're more excited to hear a V10-era car at full tilt again or see the talented and tenacious Alonso back in an F1 car, it's worth a watch.
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