Former F1 driver Pedro de la Rosa believes his countryman Fernando Alonso can add a third F1 world championship to his track record with Renault in the coming years.
Alonso will return to the fray this year after a two-year hiatus from Formula 1, taking over Daniel Ricciardo’s seat at Renault.
The 39-year-old F1 veteran has downplayed his chances of winning in 2021, let alone challenging for the title. But next year’s regulation overhaul is expected to provide Renault with an opportunity to fight at the front on a regular basis.
“Fernando loves Formula 1,” said de la Rosa, speaking in a Spanish documentary broadcasted by Movistar that chronicles Alonso’s comeback.
“The last few years he spent outside of Formula 1 taught him to appreciate the sport, so his return is generally very positive both for him as well as for Formula 1.”
De la Rosa, a veteran of 105 Grands Prix starts, says Spain’s interest for F1 had died down in the wake of Alonso’s departure from the sport at the end of 2018.
But the prospect of the 32-time Grand Prix winner returning to the grid has revived the country’s old flame.
“He can win another world title and that has caused a lot of excitement,” added de la Rosa. “Everything was a bit sad before his return.
“The people didn’t care about Formula 1, because there wasn’t a Spaniard who could win.”
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Former F1 driver turned team owner Adrian Campos, who mentored Alonso in the early stages of his career, believes his former driver will automatically boost Renault’s performance.
“He spends 25 hours a day thinking about how he can win more races in F1,” said Campos.
“If he has a car to be among the top five or six, he’ll be on the podium. If he has one that can be on the podium, he’ll do better.
“In 2021, with Ricciardo having competed for podiums [last year], Fernando may be able to win races.
“He’s had fun, he’s won races which is what he wanted, and he returns with a renewed spirit.”
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