Alonso drops hint of racing return as F1 driver market opens up

Fernando Alonso during F1 testing

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A Formula 1 world in shutdown was electrified by Sebastian Vettel’s announcement that he was set to leave Ferrari, and the paddock wasted little time in firing up with its favourite activity: speculation.

What would Vettel do next? Were Carlos Sainz or Daniel Ricciardo in pole position for his seat? And what could this mean for Fernando Alonso’s potential return to Formula 1.

The two-time F1 champion gave a response of sorts this afternoon on social media. It may have been mischievousness, a hint, or a purely innocent video, but the footage of cars lapping the Indianapolis Motor Speedway set tongues wagging.

A sand timer in the caption suggested that an announcement could be made shortly. It follows comments by Alonso last week that he had “more or less” finalised his plans for racing in 2021.

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The video could simply be a nod to his participation in this year’s Indy 500 with Arrow McLaren, postponed until August, or an indication that he’ll complete a full season next year.

An Indy 500 victory stands between him and racing’s unofficial triple crown (one version of it at least), as Alonso has already won the Monaco Grand Prix and Le Mans 24 Hours.

But Alonso has also spoken of unfinished business in F1 and plenty of the speculation has linked him to the vacant Ferrari seat; a return to McLaren; or a seat at Renault, where Alonso won both of his world titles with in 2005 and ’06.

So the meaning of a second Alonso post is being widely discussed. Renault posted images of his podium place at the 2004 French Grand Prix and he responded with an image of a grandstand of spectators from his days at the team. A suggestion that there may soon be something worth watching?