Fernando Alonso will return to Formula One in 2021 after Renault confirmed the double world champion’s signature.
Alonso, who turns 39 later this month, has been out of the sport since he appeared to bring down the curtain on his career with McLaren 18 months ago.
But the Spaniard, who won successive championships with Renault in 2005 and 2006, has now completed a sensational comeback with the French manufacturer.
Alonso replaces Daniel Ricciardo, who is moving to McLaren at the end of the year. Australian Ricciardo is taking over from Carlos Sainz ahead of his switch to Ferrari.
Alonso told Renault’s website: “Renault is my family, my fondest memories in Formula One 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.
“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.”
Alonso has competed in 311 grands prix, winning 32 of them. He starred for Renault in the early years, before quitting McLaren after one season following a turbulent campaign alongside the then-rookie Lewis Hamilton.
He returned to Renault before a four-year period at Ferrari where he came close to winning the title on two occasions. After falling out with the Italian team, he went back to McLaren, but the switch proved desperately unsuccessful.
Alonso quit the sport after four seasons with McLaren, setting his sights on becoming only the second driver since Britain’s Graham Hill to complete the so-called Triple Crown – winning the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans 24 Hours and Indy 500.
Although he won the famous sportscar endurance race in 2018 and 2019 he has not been able to crack the Indy 500, despite a remarkable effort on his first appearance back in 2017.
Renault are struggling in the sport, but Alonso will be hoping that an overhaul in the regulations and the introduction of a £115m-a-season budget cap in 2022 will fire them back up the grid. He will partner the Frenchman Esteban Ocon.
Managing director of Renault Sport Racing Cyril Abiteboul said: “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. 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.
“He will also bring to our team, which has grown very fast, a culture of racing and winning to overcome hurdles together.
“Alongside Esteban, his mission will be to help Renault DP World F1 Team prepare for the 2022 season in the best possible conditions.”