Many F1 teams have been against Fernando Alonso's short test in the 2020 Renault car during the Abu Dhabi young driver test, but Renault's F1 Director, Marcin Budkowski, believes that the 2-time world champion will still be at a disadvantage in the 2021 season compared to the drivers who are joining new teams. Alonso, who had left F1 at the end of the 2018 season returns after a hiatus of two years from the sport during which he competed in the World Endurance Championship, Indy 500, LeMans and the Dakar Rally. He has been preparing for his return quite rigorously for the last 6 months which involved him testing the 2018 Renault, however, a bit of controversy erupted when the FIA allowed him to participate in the post-season young driver test.
Considering he is 39 and a two-time world champion, many teams were against the idea as even their drivers weren't getting the extra testing time. Though the Spaniard was allowed despite protests from Racing Point, Ferrari and McLaren. He even managed to finish fastest in the RS20.
"I think you mean how much less of a disadvantage does he have? Because he hasn't been driving for two years," said Budkowski flipping the argument about Alonso's advantage.
Drivers like Carlos Sainz Jr, Sergio Perez, Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo — all highly fancied drivers are joining new teams next year without any running time and very limited pre-season testing thanks to the pandemic.
"I understand that for Carlos [Sainz] or Daniel [Ricciardo] changing teams next year and getting accustomed to a different team is tricky. There are lots to learn, different ways of working, different engineer, but in the case of Fernando he hasn't been driving for two years at all,” he said.
"So, this is why we're trying to give him some track time and also some track time on the 2018 car just to get him back in the rhythm, get him back in the physical condition, the neck and things like this, which he needs,” explained Budkowski elaborating on Alonso's situation.
"Yes, it's going to be tricky for Fernando to get used to the car in one and a half days of testing, but I think even more so because he hasn't driven for so long,” Budkowski concluded.