Fernando Alonso has revealed he began talking to Renault about a potential comeback to Formula 1 at the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
On Wednesday, Renault confirmed that the two-time world champion would be back in the sport next year, racing at the team alongside Esteban Ocon.
Alonso makes his return after leaving McLaren at the conclusion of the 2018 campaign, bringing an end to a handful of difficult seasons at the Woking-based outfit.
Alonso, who won his two titles at Renault in 2005 and 2006, says the two parties took their time while discussing a full-time race deal and insisted that a strong relationship has always existed between the pair.
“We took our time,” Alonso said. “We respect each other. The first meeting was Abu Dhabi last year, to be honest. I was at the race in 2019 and we sat down and talked for the possibility, what can be the impressions of both parties.
“We remained in contact all those months and at the end, when I finally made the decision of coming back to Formula 1, Renault was always a romantic choice.
“We didn't lose the relationship with the Renault Academy, I have a Formula Renault team, in Spain with the karting schools we do a lot of things with Renault Spain.
“[There] has always been this link. We felt it was the right thing to do.”
Alonso will make his comeback in the current generation of F1 car before the technical regulations are revamped for the 2022 season.
The Spaniard is hopeful that the budget cap, along with new rules aimed at bringing the field closer together, will give Renault a more competitive edge to its current position.
“With 2022, I hope the sport will have a step forward in competitiveness,” Alonso commented. “I think it's going to be a more firm grid. I think the cost cap, the new rules will bring more action on the track.
“But also, [a] more level field on the times. All those ingredients were [on] the table when I made a decision.
“With COVID-19 and the situation in the world, that a group like Renault is committed and supporting a Formula 1 project, I think is very important. There are not many teams that have that safety in the future.”