Fernando Alonso hinted he is considering making a return to Formula One following an overhaul of the rules for the 2021 season.
But the two-time world champion Spaniard, who ‘retired’ last year after a disappointing spell with McLaren, was enigmatic when asked if he was in contact with any teams.
“Let’s see,” he said, during an interview with Sky Sports F1. “I need to figure out a couple of different challenges out of Formula One that I need to complete.
“They are not yet finished — like the Indy 500 and some other stuff. So, 2021, with the new regulations… I think it’s a good mix that we can find there and maybe a different Formula One than what we see now.
“The reasons why I left last year are still present now with domination of a clear team and the races a little bit too predictable, but in 2021 these things can be changed and maybe it’s a good opportunity.”
He declined to give details and, when asked if he was talking to any teams about a comeback, smiled and said: “Always.”
Alonso was in the Monza paddock in his role as anambassador for McLaren. Since leaving F1 last year, he has taken part in a variety of motor racing events, winning the World Endurance Championship in June and making a second bid to triumph at the Indianapolis 500.
He said he is now involved in testing in readiness for a possible attempt on the Dakar Rally in January.
He admitted that he was apprehensive about the commitment to a 22-race F1 calendar if he made a comeback.
“Twenty-two races is non-stop,” he said.
“It’s quite demanding. Let’s see… I am getting old!” Alonso, who will turn 39 before a possible return in 2021, said.
LECLERC ON TOP
Charles Leclerc has set the pace in practice for his Ferrari team’s home Italian Grand Prix with Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton hot on his heels for Mercedes.
The 21-year-old Monegasque led both sessions at Monza, the soggy and crash- strewn first one hardly representative after heavy overnight downpours while showers returned on Friday afternoon.
Fresh from his first F1 victory last weekend at a Belgian Grand Prix overshadowed by the death of French Formula Two racer Anthoine Hubert, Leclerc lapped the ‘Pista Magica’ with a best time of one minute and 20.978 seconds. The youngster had led the first session timesheets with a time of 1:27.905 and is hitting a fine run of form after also dominating practice at Spa- Francorchamps and taking pole position.
Ferrari and Monza are both celebrating 90th anniversaries this weekend, with a big crowd already on Friday and the grandstands festooned with red and white banners.
Ferrari have not won at Monza since Spaniard Fernando Alonso in 2010 but hopes of ending that drought are high at a circuit that suits their car’s characteristics, although rain is expected.
Hamilton, 65 points clear of teammate Valtteri Bottas with eight races remaining, ended the day 0.068 slower but benefiting from an aerodynamic tow to split the Ferrari drivers.
Sebastian Vettel was third fastest in 1:21.179.
The morning featured three red flags and saw McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris second and third on the timesheets, positions the once-dominant team can only dream of in races at the moment.
Hamilton, last year’s race winner to boos from the unhappy crowd, was fourth in the morning with Vettel only eighth quickest and 2.6 seconds off the pace. Alfa Romeo’s former Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen and Racing Point’s Sergio Perez both crashed in the treacherous conditions while others spun, including Bottas who ended the first session ninth fastest but was fourth after lunch. Raikkonen was first off at Parabolica with half an hour completed, while Perez hit the wall heavily at the Ascari chicane.
Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly caused the final red flag when his car hit a kerb at the first chicane and briefly caused an obstruction, before being shoved clear by marshals.
British-born Thai racer Alexander Albon, who has traded places with Gasly, was fifth and sixth fastest for Red Bull in the respective sessions. Teammate Max Verstappen, who will drop to the back end of the starting grid due to engine changes along with Gasly and Norris, was fifth in the second session. Australian Daniel Ricciardo was ninth in the second session, while the Renault driver was 13th in the earlier session.