‘Young’ Alonso, 39, gets flak from rivals

‘Young’ Alonso, 39, gets flak from rivals

MANAMA • Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso has defended his inclusion in a Formula One “young driver” test at the age of 39, saying he needs laps under his belt before his comeback next year.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) has given the Spaniard special dispensation to participate in the post-season test in Abu Dhabi next Tuesday, upsetting some rival teams.

But Alonso, who last raced for McLaren in 2018, insisted that he needs to iron out the kinks before he returns to a Renault team who will be rebranded as Alpine next term.

“I know there is a lot of talk about me. I am happy that rival teams are so worried for a test that I am just getting up to speed,” he told Sky Sports at the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain on Saturday.

“They can be more relaxed because I will not develop anything, just some kilometres for me.”

He pointed out that former F1 drivers Robert Kubica and Sebastien Buemi would also be taking part for Alfa Romeo and Red Bull respectively, yet there was “not much talk about those guys”.

However, neither will be racing in F1 next year, leading McLaren’s Lando Norris to point out that Alonso should not be allowed to take part in the test.

“He’s double my age pretty much so that must make me extremely young,” the 21-year-old Briton, whose team are switching from Renault to Mercedes engines for 2021 and will not be involved in the testing, told Reuters.

“It’s fairly obvious Fernando’s not a young driver. It’s not like he’s only done one or two races… and he’s been doing countless tests already this year in Formula One cars. So I don’t get it.

“I don’t get why they’ve changed the rules just for him. I think it’s quite silly and it shouldn’t be allowed.”

Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul sarcastically told reporters the test was for young drivers “plus anyone that the FIA will give permission to”.

REUTERS