Fernando Alonso’s F1 comeback with Alpine is almost here. After leaving the sport at the end of 2018 and taking a two-year break from it, he’s back for a third stint with the Enstone-based team.
In his time away from F1, he certainly kept busy. He competed in the World Endurance Championship, where he won a title and took victory at Le Mans twice; the Spaniard also tasted success at the Daytona 24 Hours as he won the race last year.
Alonso also took part in the Indy500 and the Dakar Rally in 2020, finishing both events.
The two-time Formula One World Champion believes he’s got better thanks to those experiences and wants to continue to improve as a driver.
As for what he expects on his return, Alonso is cagey about making predictions because of how close the midfield was last year, with his team right in the middle of it.
“Without a doubt, I’m a more competent driver now than two years ago. [But] I want to improve even more as a driver.
“I took a lot of learnings from the last two years away from the sport, and I want to consolidate these and apply them in F1.
“For example, different philosophies of racing, driving techniques and approaches to work ethic.
“In terms of results [for 2021] it’s so difficult to predict. Last year the midfield pack was very close so this year anything can happen.”
Alonso expects that everyone will take a few races to fully click with their new machinery. The Spanish star also confirmed following his bike accident, which required jaw surgery after it, that his preparation and fitness has not been affected.
“I normally think that it takes every driver on the grid three or four races to optimise everything on a new car, maybe a bit more if you change teams or if you are new to F1,” he said.
“To be 100 per cent up to speed it can take at least the first couple of races, but it is the same for everybody.
“I also had a small setback with a bike accident a few weeks ago, but luckily the preparation and my fitness will not be impacted and I’m ready to go.”
Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi gave a more detailed explanation of Alonso’s condition and admitted his driver was lucky to come away from the accident relatively unscathed.
“Fernando is doing very well,” said Rossi. “Obviously he had a bad incident, a bike accident is rarely something that is easy. But he was lucky. He ended up only suffering from his jaw. So besides a necessary surgery and care on his jaw the rest is fine.
“Fernando is completely fit, he’s totally operational. We are even surprised that he recovered so quickly.”
“He confirmed to us immediately almost after the incident that he will be in Bahrain which has been confirmed with his doctors. And it looks like he was right because he is absolutely fit and we are looking forward to seeing him next week in the car.”