Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso will return to Formula One with Renault for the 2021 season, the team announced on Wednesday.
Alonso will replace Daniel Ricciardo, who is moving to McLaren at the end of this season, and partner Esteban Ocon.
The Spaniard, who won his two world titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006, quit Formula 1 at the end of the 2018 season.
“Renault DP World F1 Team is pleased to confirm Fernando Alonso alongside Esteban Ocon in its driver line-up for the 2021 season,” Renault said in a statement.
The 38-year-old will become the first driver to have three separate stints with one Formula 1 team, having raced for Renault between 2003-06, then 2008-09 and now from 2021 onwards.
“Renault is my family, my fondest memories in Formula 1 with my two World Championship titles, but I’m now looking ahead. It’s a great source of pride and with an immense emotion I’m returning to the team that gave me my chance at the start of my career and which now gives me the opportunity to return to the highest level,” Alonso was quoted as saying by Formula1.com.
“I have principles and ambitions in line with the team’s project. Their progress this winter gives credibility to the objectives for the 2022 season and I will share all my racing experience with everyone from the engineers to the mechanics and my team-mates. The team wants and has the means to get back on the podium, as do I.”
Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul said Alonso’s return will also help the team’s brand.
“The signing of Fernando Alonso is part of Groupe Renault’s plan to continue its commitment to F1 and to return to the top of the field. His presence in our team is a formidable asset on the sporting level but also for the brand to which he is very attached,” Abiteboul is quoted as saying by the governing body.
“The strength of the bond between him, the team and the fans make him a natural choice. In addition to past successes, it is a bold mutual choice as well as a project for the future. His experience and determination will enable us to get the best out of each other to take the team towards the excellence that modern Formula 1 demands.”
Since leaving F1, Alonso has won the Le Mans 24 Hours for a second time, won the WEC world championship and finished 13th in his Dakar Rally debut in January. He is one of the most accomplished drivers in the sport, with 32 wins and 97 podium finishes. He has also raced with Ferarri and McLaren in F1.