Alonso granted permission to take part in Abu Dhabi test

Fernando Alonso will continue to prepare for his Formula One return with Renault next year by driving this year's car at a post-season test in Abu Dhabi.

Alonso's participation in the test is controversial as the single day of running at the Yas Marina circuit was supposed to be reserved for young drivers with fewer than two F1 race appearances.

However, when Renault signed Alonso for 2021 it lobbied the sport's governing body, the FIA, to allow the veteran of 311 grands prix to take part in the test.

Alonso drove this year's Renault F1 car at a filming day in October, but the vast majority of his preparation has been in a 2018-spec car in order to abide to F1's strict in-season testing rules.

The permission for Alonso to test in Abu Dhabi was granted by the FIA, which has now opened the session up to all drivers other than the 20 who have regularly raced in F1 this year.

Rivals opposed Alonso being granted special dispensation, including McLaren and Racing Point who decided several months ago not to take part in the test because they did not have a young driver who needed mileage.

The decision has frustrated some of the drivers Alonso will share the grid with next season.

Lando Norris, who replaced Alonso at McLaren in 2019, told Reuters: "He's double my age pretty much so that must make me extremely young!

"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's Daniel Ricciardo, who's move to partner Norris at McLaren in 2021 opened the door for Alonso's return, made light of the situation on Thursday ahead of the Sakhir Grand Prix.

"I think Fernando has been maintaining a lot of health and fitness. He looks in pretty good shape and pretty young.

"I think to the naked eye he certainly passes as a young driver!"

Renault will run two cars at the single-day test -- as all teams are allowed to do -- with Chinese F2 driver Guanyu Zhou driving the second car.

"We would like to thank the FIA and F1 for their acceptance of our test plans, made in recognition of our commitment to young drivers throughout junior motorsport and to Fernando's own dedication to furthering the careers of young talents," Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul said.

"For Fernando this will be the next step in his return. He has worked tirelessly to make sure he is as ready as he possibly can be for 2021. He wants to contribute fully -- not just to the team, but to the fans and the sport he has missed in the past two years.

"Zhou has experienced the benefit of the Renault Sport Academy, having joined its ranks last year. He has worked hard and made a genuine contribution to the performance of the team through his work in the simulator and test programme. I am delighted he can drive the R.S.20 to complement his journey so far."