Alonso ‘more complete’ after F1 hiatus

Fernando Alonso

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso suggests he’s “a more complete driver” after his two-year hiatus from Formula 1.

The Spaniard returns to the sport this season with Alpine after taking a sabbatical at the end of 2018.

Over the last two years he’s had stints in the World Endurance Championship, along with outings at Indianapolis and Dakar.

During that time he won two 24 Hours of Le Mans with Toyota, and was part of its WEC winning team in the 2018-19 season.

“I became a more complete driver,” Alonso said of his time away from F1.

“You constantly learn when you push yourself to new limits and when you are out of your comfort zone.

“Without a doubt, I’m a more competent driver now than two years ago.”

Alonso’s return to Formula 1 was announced by the then-Renault team last July following Daniel Ricciardo’s decision to leave the team for McLaren.

Now 36 years old, Alonso took part in the season-ending test at the Yas Marina circuit in December, following an outing in one of his championship winning Renault’s over the course of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend.

“I feel great and in the best shape I’ve ever been before both physically and mentally,” Alonso said of his preparations, despite being involved in a cycling accident which left him with a broken jaw.

“I’ve been preparing myself for this comeback for quite a while now and I have a fresh motivation.”

Renault finished last year fifth in the constructors’ championship.

With regulations mandating the cars remain almost unchanged for the coming year, little is expected to change.

The midfield battle is expected to remain tight, with McLaren, Alpine (nee Renault), Aston Martin (nee Racing Point), and Ferrari predicted to be closely matched as the sport’s third best team.

Success for Alonso in 2021 is therefore about how he and the team delivers on a race weekend, rather than outright performance.

“I want to improve even more as a driver,” he said of his 2021 goals.

“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 it’s so difficult to predict.

“Last year the midfield pack was very close so this year anything can happen.

“Delivering and executing the races as close to perfection as possible,” he added when asked about his measures of success in the coming campaign.

“This is what we must do on race days, and this is what I’m prepared for.

“Results in F1 depend on many performance factors, but we have to deliver the best we can at every opportunity.”

Pre-season testing gets underway in Bahrain next week, March 12-14, with the opening round of the season to take place at the same venue on March 26-28.

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