Opinion: If Alonso's F1 dream wasn't over before, it is now

User Rating: 5 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Active

As the world reels from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Formula 1 has been forced to adapt in ways few thought possible.

From a season that now looks set to stretch across two calendar years, to delaying the most hyped-up series of rule changes the sport has ever seen.

What has been most impressive is how surprisingly little resistance these historic decisions have faced, as the usual political minefield that fills the paddock has been replaced with almost worrying levels of cooperation in F1's interest.

Of course, the main reason for that is these are unprecedented times and regardless of where any team or manufacturer stands typically on big issues, those positions are meaningless if there isn't a sport for them to exist in.

Anyway, you've opened this article to read about Fernando Alonso, so I supposed it's time to do just that.

The beloved two-time world champion may have retired from F1 at the end of 2018, but his name has rarely been far away from the sport in the 15 months since.

Sure, he's kept himself occupied with his World Endurance Championship stint at Toyota, failing to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 last year and then attempting the 2020 Dakar Rally.

But through it all there's been one question following Fernando where ever he would go: "Will you return to Formula 1?".

Being Alonso, his answers have always kept the journalists guessing, but over the past six months or so, one thing has been very clear, if he is to make the much-talked-about comeback, it would be for the new regulations coming in 2021.

You see, Alonso's problem was not that he had passed his best in his last year's at McLaren, but rather he couldn't get the car which allowed him to show he could fight with Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel and Co.

But from 2021, it was possible the rule changes could allow McLaren or Renault or even another top midfield team to potentially make that jump to the front, thus increasing his options.

Now, however, due to the coronavirus, that has changed and the cars Alonso thought could offer him a route to potentially a third F1 title have been pushed back until 2022.

That is significant because his racing decisions are done on an annual basis, based on what it is he feels like trying.

Already, Alonso's schedule this year has been shifted with his only big race planned, the Indianapolis 500, moved from May to August, and he admits he is having to watch the future plans of F1, IndyCar and others to assess his next move.

“The IndyCar and the Indy500 have published their new schedule, but until this is all over, I don’t have much desire to fight or to think about putting the helmet back on,” the Spaniard said recently on Instagram.

“I will decide after the summer. Everything has been postponed, including the new rules for Formula 1 until the end of 2021.

“I also have to see whether or not I will do the Dakar next year. If it is not next year, I will do it again later.”

The last comment by itself suggests an F1 comeback is unlikely because only a very open-minded team would allow him to compete in something as tough and dangerous as the Dakar just a month before pre-season testing starts.

But then there's the main reason he isn't coming back, Alonso isn't exactly getting younger.

If he was to join the F1 grid in 2022 he'd do so aged 40 and could he really be successful against the likes of Leclerc, Verstappen, Russell and Norris after three years away at that point?

Just look at Michael Schumacher's return at Mercedes and there lies your answer.

Also at that age, which team would consider him versus the considerable young talent currently on the grid?

McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull have all publicly said no, Renault wants to focus on youth and Mercedes may not even be on the grid by then.

So sorry Fernando, while you might have been worth a look for 2021, beyond that, there's simply no reason to. So go complete your Triple Crown, go win Dakar and we'll look forward to seeing you back in F1 in your managerial role when you decide it's time to hang it up too.