Alonso's Indy disappointment won't dampen his F1 fire

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Fernando Alonso, who finished 21st in the Indianapolis 500 on Aug 23, will return to Formula 1 next year with Renault.

Fernando Alonso isn't about to let a little speed bump mar his return to Formula 1 next season.

On Aug 23 the Spaniard failed in his bid to become just the second driver after Britain's Graham Hill to win motor sports' prestigious "Triple Crown"-the Monaco GP(2007), Le Mans 24 Hours (2019) and the Indy 500.

Driving for Arrow McLaren, the 39-year-old started 26th on the 33-car grid at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and finished in 21st place, but his much-anticipated return to F1 is expected to culminate in another championship, according to retired compatriot turned TV pundit Jaime Alguersuari.

Alonso, who won the F1 crown for Renault in 2005 and 2006, will return to the series with the French team in 2021-two years after he stepped away following a dismal stint with McLaren.

Alonso will replace Daniel Ricciardo and team up with Esteban Ocon-a move that Alguersuari, who spent two years in F1 driving for Toro Rosso, believes will herald another title.

"Renault has shown signs of improvement after underperforming last year, but as always, it will depend on the car that Fernando has," Alguersuari told Stats Perform News last week.

"He is a great driver, which he has demonstrated always, and I imagine everyone's expectation is that he will win another world title.

"If you already have won two, everybody expects you to go and win a third one, but everything will depend on the car that he has and his capabilities to deal with F1 again."

Alonso won Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship after stepping away from F1, and also placed 13th in this year's Dakar Rally.

"I'm just happy to finish the race, cross the line and have 500 miles in the pocket, that's the positive thing. The negative is that we were out of contention very quickly with a clutch problem," Alonso said after the Indy.

He has already ruled out Indy 500 attempts next year and in 2022 because of his F1 comeback.

"Fernando is driven by his racing motivation. I understand him," said Alguersuari, who competed in F1 from 2009-11. "At the end of the day it's a matter of priorities and that was on his to-do list, to compete in other motor sports series is something that you respect because he is a motor sports fan, he has it in his blood."

Meanwhile, at the tender age of 13, Britain's Ella Stevens is fighting for a chance to become the first female driver for the most famous team in F1-Ferrari.

This fall Stevens faces a series of challenges, on and off track at the Paul Ricard circuit in France, with the ultimate prize a place at the prestigious Ferrari Driver Academy as its first female racer.

"It's a very good opportunity for me," the British karting champion told CNN. "We have to do a few fitness tests in the first phase and some karting so that they can see our driving."

The academy is a breeding ground for future stars. Its current crop includes Mick Schumacher, the son of legendary Ferrari driver Michael, Enzo Fittipaldi, whose grandfather Emerson was a double F1 world champion, and Arthur Leclerc, the younger brother of Ferrari's current F1 star Charles.

A woman has not raced in F1 for more than 40 years, and just six have taken part in a Grand Prix weekend.

Whatever the outcome with Ferrari, Stevens has already demonstrated the raw talent to go far in motor sports. At age 10 she became the British karting champion-the same age as Lewis Hamilton when he also won the cadet class karting championship.

"I'd love to be a professional racer and possibly make it to Formula 1," Stevens said. "I started karting when I was 6 years old. I first had a go in a Bambino kart at a track in Wales and I really liked it."

Stevens is coached by W Series race winner Alice Powell, who rates her protege as a "big talent".

"Ella has already won a karting championship and numerous races so she's experienced success," said Powell. "She's also had difficult times and has done well to overcome them. She deserves an opportunity to try and get a place in the Ferrari Academy.

"She definitely has huge potential to step up into Formula 1."

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