Alonso ready to return to F1 'stronger' and to 'win' but is it just more rhetoric?

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January 2020 isn't over yet and already Fernando Alonso is hammering the possibility of returning to Formula 1 in 2021.

Admittedly, the Spaniard has been in the spotlight after competing in the Dakar Rally, and everywhere he goes every second question is about an F1 comeback, but the double world champion is certainly upping the hype.

The latest example? Comments made to the F1 Racing magazine where Alonso didn't just hint at a return but vowed to be the best he has ever been should he do so.

“I have not finished with F1,” he said. “2021 is a good opportunity and I feel fresh and ready now. It’s something I’m going to try.

“I will be ready to return to F1 stronger and, if I am in the right place I will win," he declared.

“I have so much confidence in myself that I know I can take any car and if everything goes well, I should win.”

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While, of course, having Alonso back on the grid in a competitive seat would be great for F1, the question is whether this is simply more of the same bluster than he came out with when claiming McLaren was on the brink of winning every year?

After all, his options at the top three teams appear limited. 

A return to Ferrari has already been ruled out and Red Bull have also dismissed the possibility.

The most viable destination would be Mercedes, but even that will depend on if the company remains in F1 with a works team and if Lewis Hamilton signs a new contract.

Should the first outcome be yes, then it's more than likely the second would follow suit.

So what about away from those teams, where could Alonso go that has the best chance of meeting his desire for more victories and perhaps even that elusive third world title?

The most likely place is Renault, where the French manufacturer has already put around half of their resources towards the 2021 project.

Of course, the company's own future in F1 is also uncertain with an ongoing review announced by interim CEO Clotilde Delbos last October, but just this week her permanent replacement was announced with Luca de Meo taking over on July 1.

Should Renault's participation continue, however, Alonso certainly has strong ties to the team having won his two world titles there.

It also just so happens that Daniel Ricciardo is out of contract after 2020 and is a name put forward as a possible Sebastian Vettel replacement if the German chose to leave Ferrari.

McLaren is another team looking to capitalise on the new regulations and has a good chance of doing so.

Here too, Alonso has strong links having still been part of the team until an ambassadorial contract expired earlier this month.

But while both Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz are not signed up for 2021, it is very likely that, should no other opportunities emerge higher up the grid, they will be retained.

Then there are the long shots, Racing Point is pushing to have an operation in place that can match the likes of McLaren and Renault and now has the money to potentially go on and become a podium-contending team.

Perhaps add Alonso to that mix and wins become a possibility, but the hurdle would be if owner Lawrence Stroll is prepared to replace his own son.

Finally, there's the successor to whatever the Mercedes works team would be, should the company decide to sell.

Here too Lawrence Stroll could be involved, having recently been tied to a takeover with Toto Wolff using the Aston Martin brand.

And if Hamilton decided he didn't want to be part of whatever Mercedes would become, that could potentially offer Alonso a way back in for 2021.

Asked about the possibility of joining Mercedes though, Fernando pointed to the pitfall every driver faces for next year.

“They have been dominating for many years and have a strong team at this time,” he said. “We’ll see how they go.

“The only problem with the new [2021] rules is that some teams could interpret them differently than others.

“You can join a team that is winning now, but if they make a mistake with the rules, will people say that I made a bad decision again?”

Then there's one final factor, by the end of next year Alonso will have turned 40 but that was something he shrugged off.

“I don’t think age is an inconvenience,” he insisted. “Now without fuel stops, they are not so demanding.

“You drive seven or eight seconds more slowly on a Sunday than on a Saturday.

“In addition, with the new 18-inch wheels, the way of driving will change and everyone should learn their driving again.”

What do you think, can Alonso make a successful comeback in 2021? Feel free to comment below.