F 1

Current drivers open to Alonso's possible return

James Jose/Abu Dhabi
Filed on December 1, 2019
Alonso who quit F1 last year, has hinted of a return to the circuit in 2021. - AFP

The 38-year-old, who is now an ambassador with McLaren, has left the door open to a possible return to the grid when the sport undergoes a transformation in 2021.

Many Formula One drivers, over the years, have walked away for the sport only for them to return after a few seasons in the wilderness.

There have been sabbaticals and the eventual, drive-into-the-twilight retirement. Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher left Ferrari, the most successful team in F1 history, in 2006 only for the German to make a shock comeback with Mercedes in 2010.

Kimi Raikkonen too went on a sabbatical in 2009, following his stint with the Prancing Horse, as he dabbled in the World Rally Championship (WRC) and NASCAR. But his sheer love and passion saw him return to the grid with Lotus in 2012.

Alain Prost took a year off after parting ways with Ferrari in 1992 and joined Williams the following year. Nigel Mansell too left in 1992 and came back in 1994.

Fernando Alonso, a double world champion, announced that he was leaving the sport and the Spaniard was given a wonderful farewell at the season-ending Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last year.

But the 38-year-old, who is now an ambassador with McLaren, has left the door open to a possible return to the grid when the sport undergoes a transformation in 2021.

Alonso, who tried his hand at the Indy 500 and will be competing in the Dakar Rally in January next year, revealed that the fire has been reignited because of the changes coming into play.

A year on, after that farewell at the Yas Marina Circuit, Alonso told Sky Sports F1 on the sidelines of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Saturday that he has kept his options open, if an opportunity presented itself.

"The regulation changes in 2021, I think that's the reason why I keep open possibilities, because maybe things mix a little bit with the new rules," the 2005 and 2006 champion said.

 "So let's see next year what opportunity comes," he added.

And some of the current drivers, who raced with him and against him, would be happy to see him return but added he should only do so in a competitive car.

"I'd be more than just happy that I won't be the oldest here! So welcome an older dude, he can come along," said Hamilton, who was Alonso's teammate at McLaren.

"Fernando's obviously a well-accomplished driver. It's interesting to see in the past, obviously, with drivers wanting to come back, like Michael (Schumacher), and it's something you've done your whole life so. I haven't spoken to Fernando so I don't know how he's been feeling or how much he's missed it, but I don't think it would be bad for the sport. Ultimately, there's a lot of young kids on their way up and there's only 20 seats, so he has also had his period of time there, but if there's no other good youngsters coming through then, there definitely is space for some that are currently here that probably could be replaced. So I would welcome it," he added.

Young gun Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen felt that the decision could prove counterproductive if Alonso doesn't have a car good enough to race.

"He's a great driver. And it would be good to see him if he could come back, but only in a competitive car. Otherwise, I think it's just a waste of time for him. But I think he knows that himself so," the Dutchman said.




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