Fernando Alonso will make his Formula 1 return this weekend following a two-season hiatus. The Spaniard believes he is as good as ever, maybe even “better” than Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.
Fernando has reunited with the Enstone team, now Alpine, which he won his two championships with as Renault in 2005 and 2006.
Alonso, now 39, has used his time since leaving McLaren to race in the World Endurance Championship, two failed Indy 500 attempts and a run in the 2020 Dakar Rally. The two-time world champion and Le Mans winner is full of confidence and excitement making his return to F1.
“It’s going to be great, I’m looking forward,” he said speaking with the BBC.
“There are some young, talented guys that have been showing great performance in the younger categories.
“And then we still have the champions. Lewis, Sebastian, Kimi, Verstappen – even if he is one of the young ones, of the younger generation, he has raced at the top level already for four years, five years.
“We have a very competitive grid and it’s going to be a challenge to meet everyone on track.”
Taking to the track in winter testing, Alonso immediately seemed right at home with the Alpine team, which he has said previously remains familiar from his time there in the past. Clocking 205 laps over the three-days just a couple of weeks on from a cycling accident showed his comfort back behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car.
In an interview with the BBC, he was asked whether he felt he will still be as good as the biggest names in the sport, he replied: “No, I’m better.”
The Spaniard remains as full of charisma and enthusiasm as he had during his prime, but his performances are likely to be limited by the capability of the Alpine A521.
On his opportunity to win race wins, Alonso is looking towards 2022 but isn’t ruling out chances of a podium in 2021: “We understand that this year it’s going to be not possible because the regulations are a little bit different, but basically the same as previous years so I don’t see any miracle happening there.
“But I think 2022 there’s a chance with the new regulations of mixing a little bit the order of the grid, and we want to be one of those teams that surprise everybody and to do that we need to work hard in this year.”