Alonso set to replace Ricciardo at Renault, IndyCar still in play (4th Update)

Alonso leaves the IndyCar door cracked open for 2021
Alonso leaves the IndyCar door cracked open for 2021

UPDATE (GMM) Fernando Alonso has admitted he is contemplating a return to Formula 1.

Amid speculation the Spaniard is eyeing Daniel Ricciardo's Renault vacancy for 2021, his manager Flavio Briatore on Monday claimed Alonso is "motivated", "detoxed" and "ready to return".

When asked about his next challenge during a conversation with University of Real Madrid students, Alonso admitted: "I am considering different challenges – contemplating various options.

"Let's say that since I decided to go to Dakar to learn about a very different discipline, I have dedicated many thoughts to the future.

"I will not repeat the very positive Dakar adventure for the next 2, 3, 4 years. On a physical and motivational level, I feel I am prepared for very, very big challenges.

"Now I want to focus on the top category in the world of motorsport, so either a return to Formula 1 or another experience in world endurance or Indycar. I have an idea in my head," the 38-year-old revealed.

However, he denied that he is ready to make an announcement.

"I have seen that my name appears with some frequency in the newspapers and the news, but in reality there is nothing new – I have no big news to communicate," said Alonso.

"As I said before, all I can say is that I am at the highest physical and mental level, and consequently I again want important challenges.

"My first year without F1 was very intense, so the plan was for 2020 to be very peaceful. In reality it has become very quiet for everyone.

"I will do the Indianapolis 500 on August 23 and then I will continue to recharge my batteries in view of 2021," he concluded.

Alonso won world titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006
Alonso won world titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006, but are his reflexes still good enough?

05/18/20 (GMM) Fernando Alonso is "ready to return" to Formula 1, according to his long-time manager Flavio Briatore.

Speculation that Spaniard Alonso, 38, is close to signing with his former team Renault to replace Daniel Ricciardo in 2021 is now rife.

France's Auto Hebdo is reporting that a pre-agreement is already signed, while Marca sports newspaper in Spain claims Liberty Media will help Renault to foot the bill.

"Fernando is motivated," Briatore told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"One year out of F1 has done him good. He has detoxed himself, I see him more serene now and he is ready to return."

05/17/20 French magazine Auto Hebdo claim several sources have told them Alonso has penned a pre-agreement to step into Ricciardo's shoes at Renault.

Sky Sports F1 expert Martin Brundle thinks that Renault will consider resigning Alonso.

"I think Alonso is desperate to get back into Formula 1, he'll be throwing his hat in the ring somewhere. Could it be a third trip to Renault for him?

05/15/20 (GMM) At the end of a sensational 'silly season' week for Formula 1, it now emerges that Fernando Alonso looks to be returning to the sport and Renault next year.

Sources report that the deal is almost done, with Renault, Alonso and his manager Flavio Briatore all dropping photographic hints on social media in recent hours.

"For me, Alonso is one of those drivers you could put in any car and they are immediately on the pace," former driver Marc Surer told Speed Week.

"But I do not believe he is returning because he would want a car with which he can be at the front."

Indeed, Daniel Ricciardo has clearly vacated the seat and switched to McLaren after losing faith in Renault's works project. Alonso won his two titles with Renault some decade and a half ago.

Ferrari refugee Sebastian Vettel is also being linked with the seat, but insiders believe retirement is more likely for the quadruple world champion.

"It's really hard to say who a suitable teammate will be for (Esteban) Ocon, but Renault will need experience," Mika Salo told Finland's MTV.

However, the Finn said Alonso would be a "surprising" choice.

"Alonso has been out of the sport and I don't know how he would adapt to the new car," said Salo. "It's a risk for Renault, but definitely a good media move."

Ferrari tester and Alonso's fellow Spaniard Marc Gene told El Partidazo de Cope: "I don't know anything in particular, but I think Alonso wants to return in 2021 and I do see him in a team like Renault.

"It would not seem strange to me," he said.

05/14/20 (GMM) Daniel Ricciardo looks set to leave Renault and Fernando Alonso looks set to replace him.

Melbourne's Age newspaper said an announcement to that effect is expected early on Thursday. It is rumored that he will replace the Ferrari-bound Carlos Sainz at McLaren for 2021.

Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul hinted that the French team needs to save money on drivers for 2021. Ricciardo joined from Red Bull at the end of 2018 on a reportedly lucrative two-year contract.

"We have a very good pair of drivers this year, there is no doubt about that," Abiteboul told Auto Motor und Sport.

"But we know that we need to invest as much as we can in the technology of the car for 2022, so that will be our main focus."

Former driver and popular British commentator Martin Brundle said he thinks it "probably would be (Fernando) Alonso" who replaces Ricciardo at Renault.

Alonso, 38, won his two titles for Renault in 2005 and 2006, before driving for McLaren and Ferrari and taking a sabbatical last year.

Renault appeared to hint about a potential reunion with the Spaniard on Wednesday by tweeting photos of him celebrating victory in blue Renault overalls.