Fernando Alonso despatched a warning to his rivals by setting the quickest lap time at System One’s post-season take a look at in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
The 2-time world champion will return to the grid with the rebranded Alpine staff (presently Renault) subsequent season after two years away from the game.
His participation in Tuesday’s take a look at was controversial because the session was initially scheduled for younger drivers with expertise of lower than two races in F1.
Alonso, who’s 39 years outdated and has began 311 grands prix in his profession, was given particular dispensation by the FIA to participate with the intention to get his first full day of testing in a 2020-spec automotive.
He briefly drove this 12 months’s Renault R.S.20 at a filming day in October however was restricted to 100km, whereas the remainder of his preparation for his return has been in a 2018-spec automotive to adjust to F1’s strict testing rules.
He accomplished 105 laps on Tuesday, over 583km or almost two race distances, setting a quickest time of 1:36.333 on Pirelli’s softest compound tyre.
Comparisons to Saturday’s qualifying will not be excellent on account of totally different observe circumstances, however for context Max Verstappen’s pole time was a 1:35.246 and Alonso’s teammate for subsequent 12 months, Esteban Ocon, set a 1:36.359 in the identical automotive.
Renault confirmed Alonso accomplished low-fuel qualifying-style runs in addition to a race simulation with the intention to rise up to hurry with the newest F1 equipment.
“It was good and really good to be again within the automotive particularly with the race staff,” Alonso stated. “I have been testing the 2018 automotive in preparation however this one felt a bit extra severe and it ignited just a little bit the aggressive spirit.
“It was nice to really feel the trendy vehicles and expertise what they’ll do. I used to be watching the staff’s progress on the weekend intently and it was good to expertise what I learnt from the surface after which contained in the cockpit in the present day.
“We signed off plenty of staple items we did in preparation on the manufacturing facility like seat becoming, pedal place and so forth, which is useful with just one and a half days of winter testing subsequent 12 months.
“We ticked packing containers in the present day and we go into Christmas and New 12 months with good spirit and everybody motivated within the staff.”
Groups have been allowed to run two vehicles on the take a look at and world champions Mercedes completed the session second and third.
Mercedes’ System E drivers, Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne, have been driving the 13-time race profitable W11, with respective lap instances of 1:36.595 and 1:36.840.
Alfa Romeo reserve driver Robert Kubica, who additionally wouldn’t have met the unique entry necessities for the take a look at, was fourth quickest, albeit over a second off Alonso’s quickest time.
There was additionally a glimpse of subsequent 12 months’s driver line-ups, with Yuki Tsunoda, who is anticipated to be confirmed as Daniil Kvyat’s alternative at Alpha Tauri, fourth quickest and Mick Schumacher, the son of seven-time world champion Michael, 15th quickest with 125 laps within the Haas.