Renault, between emotion and ‘fear’ before the demand that comes with Alonso

Fernando Alonso is famous for many things, but where everyone is unanimous is in his commitment, demand and attention to detail. And, although there are still several months to go until the start of the 2021 season, Renault already ‘suffers’ the Spanish.

Since Fernando Alonso was confirmed on July 8 as the official Renault / Alpine driver for the 2021 season, the French team has only had a little over a month to prepare for what was to come.

Possibly many of the members of Renault already knew Fernando Alonso’s way of working, but there is no doubt that, since he began working exclusively on his return to Formula 1 in September, no one at the Enstone and Viry-Chatillon headquarters has left doubts.

“Overnight, he completely changed his riding style to cope with that single tire rule”

Since then, Fernando Alonso has not rested in his desire to be as well prepared as possible for his return and for the filming day held in Barcelona in mid-October, has completed four more days of testing with the 2018 RS18, two in Bahrain and two more recently in Abu Dhabi.

That is why it is not surprising that Renault is very excited about Alonso’s return at the key moment of your project, as it is now when the French firm has to show that it can win again.

Speed ​​and adaptability

Alan Permane, current sports director of Renault and Giancarlo Fisichella and Jarno Trulli engineer when these were Fernando Alonso’s colleagues at Renault.

“It’s his speed”, answers Permane when asked what makes Spanish special. «I was never his engineer, I suspect I did it in a test with him at some point, but his adaptability was also incredible. So, in 2004, I was an engineer with Trulli, we got through it once there; we won in Monaco … that was my first victory as a race engineer, it was quite special.

Already in September, Alonso began working exclusively on his return to Formula 1.

But then the British engineer tells an anecdote from 2004 and 2005, when Formula 1 underwent a radical change in its concept and the obligation to complete the entire competition weekend with a single set of tires was introduced. «Fernando had that way of driving the car in which he really demanded the front tires, to … make a really sharp turn and use that to stabilize the car. It was very hard on the front tires.

Something that made Permane and Fisichella think that they would have serious options to impose themselves on Alonso. “We had refueling in those days, so several pit stops were common. And I remember saying to Giancarlo (Fisichella) in early 2005, I remember exactly where we were, sitting in the Enstone coffee shop, thinking we were going to catch this guy because we had only one set of tires for qualifying and the race. “admits Permane.

“And Fernando, overnight, completely changed his driving style to cope with that single tire rule,” says the fascinated Briton. “Suddenly it was super smooth on the left front tire. So I think adaptability was one of his key strengths ».

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After that, Permane admits that Alonso is very fast, but that the key to his success lies in his adaptability and attention to detail. “Of course he’s phenomenally fast, but I think (mostly it’s) the adaptability and having contact with him from this summer in preparation for next year, it’s his attention to detail. Is incredible. Just questions, questions, questions … all kinds of things come all the time, non-stop. So next year will be a good year.

Permane even recognizes that, during the Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso is constantly collaborating with the team from home, acting as if he were one of the starting drivers. «During the weekend of the race, he sends me messages saying: “Don’t forget this” or “think about that.” And he’s sitting at home! Listen to our meetings from there and you think that he is right in what he says … and I know that this will only be multiplied by ten when he comes », says Permane, well aware of the demand that the Spanish will place on each of the team members .