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Sport

Alonso makes light of 'young driver' test concern

(Reuters) - Double world champion Fernando Alonso has defended his inclusion in a Formula One ‘young driver’ test at the age of 39, saying he needed laps under his belt before his comeback next year.

FILE PHOTO: Rallying - Dakar Rally Preview - King Abdullah Sports City, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - January 3, 2020 Toyota Gazoo Racing's Fernando Alonso during a press conference REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed/File Photo

The governing FIA has given the Spaniard a dispensation to participate in the post-season test in Abu Dhabi on Dec. 15, upsetting some rival teams.

Alonso last raced for McLaren in 2018 and said he needed every kilometre before he returns to a Renault team renamed as Alpine.

“I know there are a lot of talks about me. I am happy that rival teams are so worried for a test that I am just getting up to speed,” he told Sky Sports television at the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain on Saturday.

“They can be more relaxed because I will not develop anything, just some kilometres for me.”

Alonso pointed out that former F1 drivers Robert Kubica and Sebastien Buemi would also be taking part for Alfa Romeo and Red Bull respectively -- although neither will be racing next year -- and there was “not much talk about those guys”.

McLaren’s Lando Norris said on Thursday Alonso should not be allowed to take part in the test.

“He’s double my age pretty much so that must make me extremely young,” the 21-year-old Briton, whose team are switching from Renault engines to Mercedes for 2021 and will not be testing, told Reuters.

“It’s fairly obvious Fernando’s not a young driver. It’s not like he’s only done one or two races... and he’s been doing countless tests already this year in Formula One cars. So I don’t get it.

“I don’t get why they’ve changed the rules just for him. I think it’s quite silly and it shouldn’t be allowed.”

Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul told reporters the test was for young drivers “plus anyone that the FIA will give permission to.

“That’s in the absolute right of the FIA to do that,” he added.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Clare Fallon

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