Three Drivers Who Could Stand In for Fernando Alonso at Alpine F1 in Bahrain

Published 02/12/2021, 12:50 AM EST
NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – Esteban Ocon of France driving the (31) Renault Sport Formula One Team RS20 during the F1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone in Northampton, England. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)


The latest news reports emerging have confirmed that Alpine F1 driver Fernando Alonso was involved in a road accident in Switzerland and had to be hospitalized.

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The Spaniard is said to have suffered a dislocated jaw and broken teeth. Alonso was hit by a car while he was cycling in Lugano. He is now recovering in a hospital in Bern.
With the dates (March 12th – March 14th) for pre-season testing only a month away, it is unclear just how quickly the 2-times world champion will be back on his feet. Fans have been waiting to see the legend return after having left the sport 3 years earlier.

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BUDAPEST, HUNGARY. Fernando Alonso of  McLaren F1 walks in the Paddock. Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
However, if Fernando is unable to recover in a month’s time and doesn’t feel up to the rigors of F1 racing just yet (bear in mind the season kicks off only two weeks after testing), who is to replace him?
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Alpine F1 has three major choices to replace Fernando Alonso for pre-season testing and the first race

The first name that comes to mind is Nico Hulkenberg. The German driver is uncontracted for the 2021 season, although reports suggest that he is close to linking up with Aston Martin in a reserve driver’s capacity.
Hulkenberg seems to have become F1’s first choice stand-in driver after making three substitute appearances last season. On all three occasions, he drove for Racing Point, replacing Sergio Perez (2 races) and Lance Stroll (1 race) after the duo had contracted the virus.
Hulkenberg even put in some very commendable performances, even getting his car into P3 in qualifying after being summoned on short notice.
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ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. A Racing Point in action. Yas Marina Circuit. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Moreover, Nico has the experience of driving for Renault before. He suited up for the team between 2017 and 2019 and could well be Alpine’s first choice to stand in for Alonso in Bahrain.

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The other most likely candidate is Guanyu Zhou. The Chinese driver is set to compete in his third F2 championship this season. He is part of the Renault (now Alpine) driver academy and is a highly rated driver who desires to make the jump into the big leagues by 2022.
However, as things stand, Zhou still doesn’t have the required number of super license points. But, he is currently competing in the F3 Asian Championship. Were he to win it, he’d qualify to race in F1.
The third candidate is Sergey Sirotkin. The Russian driver was handed the role of reserve driver for Renault in 2020. However, the 25-year-old’s only F1 season was in 2018. Since then he has not driven a single-seater, preferring to compete in endurance racing and GT championships.

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So, who among these three will Alpine choose as their stand-in for the Spaniard? It may well be that they opt for a total wildcard entry. But, whosoever stands in for Alonso would most definitely have very big boots to fill, that’s for sure.

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Ronan Carvalho

967 articles

Ronan Carvalho is senior F1 author for Essentiallysports. Ronan is currently pursuing his Journalism degree from St. Xavier's College.

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