During his sabbatical from Formula 1 after a difficult second stint at McLaren, Alonso ventured into a wide variety of motorsport disciplines, including endurance racing, but arguably lived up to his challenge. the most difficult when he entered Dakar at the start of 2020.
Driving the works Toyota Hilux in the prestigious Off-Road Rally of Saudi Arabia, the Spaniard exceeded expectations by finishing in the top 10 in eight of the 12 stages, eventually recording a respectable 13th place in the final standings.
Alonso has since returned to focusing on F1 and recently signed a multi-year contract to move to Aston Martin, keeping him in Grand Prix racing until at least the end of the 2024 season.
However, there is no clarity on what he will do beyond the end of his current contract, and a move to other leagues cannot be ruled out.
Al-Attiyah, a four-time Dakar winner, believes Alonso has an appetite for off-road rallying and thinks it would be possible for any top driver to succeed in the marathon once he has enough experience to face the terrain.
“I’m still pushing Fernando to have him in Dakar again,” said the Qatari driver when asked by Autosport about the prospects for Alonso’s return to the rally.
“I know Fernando from F1 but I met him when he joined the team in 2020.
“The team asked me to help teach Fernando in the sand dunes. It was three days in Qatar and under 50C and it was really amazing work [by him]. He is very, very talented.
“What we did for the first time in Dakar, he showed the speed. For this kind of race, you have to have experience, because if you see the history of Dakar, you have to have four, five or six years of experience before you can win.
“But it was really good to have Fernando. We still talk. We are waiting for him.”
#310 Toyota Gazoo Racing: Fernando Alonso, Marc Coma
Photo by: ASO
Pressed further if he thought Alonso could make a comeback, Al-Attiyah said: “I think so. He loved the Dakar, and I’m sure maybe after next year or in two years. [he will come back]”
Al-Attiyah hopes to defend his title in next year’s Dakar, which will again be held entirely in Saudi Arabia but over 14 stages instead of 12.
The action will kick off with the prologue on December 31 at the end of this month, with New Year’s Day marking the start of the first full stage.
Al-Attiyah will be joined in the Toyota works team by Giniel de Villiers and Henk Lategan for what will be the 45th edition of the rally raid.