Fernando Alonso: ‘Hopefully I’m back as a better driver’

After stepping away from Formula One in 2018, the two-time world champion is back this season, on a acquainted crew — previously recognized as Renault, however now racing underneath the brand new identify Alpine.

“I still love cycling,” Alonso informed CNN’s Amanda Davies as he mirrored on his collision with a automobile whereas out on a coaching trip. “I will probably have to use the mountain bike a little bit more now, on different trails and avoid the normal roads.

“But in a means, it is not going to change a lot. My preparation might be based mostly on a bicycle all the time.”

Alonso concedes that he has been lucky, considering the timing of the accident, to recover in time for the new season, and as he looks back on a long career across three teams — Renault, McLaren and Ferrari — he’s also aware just how fortunate he’s been in his life.

“I really feel very privileged,” he said. “I do know many, many proficient drivers. They haven’t got even the chance generally to check a Formula One automobile of their profession.

“I was lucky to choose when to change teams. I was lucky when to stop Formula One. I’m lucky to choose one to come back.

“I had all the time the likelihood to decide on my very own future in a means. So, let’s have enjoyable now.”

Alonso’s return to motorsport’s elite division marks the first time a driver has had three separate stints with a single F1 team — 2003-06, 2008-09 and now from 2021 onwards. His contract with Alpine is for two years.

After leaving F1 in 2018, Alonso competed within the IndyAutomobile Series, Le Mans’ 24-hour race and the Dakar Rally the place he emerged unscathed from a crash when his Toyota Hilux flew through the air after hitting a sand dune in Saudi Arabia.

It’s no secret that Alonso needs to win the coveted “Triple Crown of Motorsport” — which consists of the Indy 500, Le Mans’ 24-hour race and the Monaco Grand Prix. He’s already won two of the three, with just the Indy 500 left to go.

“I used to be thought-about all the time just like the F1 man that was racing the Indy 500 and issues like that,” said Alonso, who doesn’t feel much has changed in F1 since he sought new pastures.

“I’m roughly seeing the identical folks, identical drivers. It’s principally all the identical.

“And I think you have a memory of how to drive these cars, and after three or four laps, you immediately are comfortable with everything you’re feeling.”

As a Renault driver Fernando Alonso won two championsips, in 2005 and 2006.

‘The proper message, proper now’

While Alonso was away, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton arrange a fee within the present world champion’s identify to extend range in motorsport, whereas F1 launched the #WeRaceAsOne initiative, and with it a new Task Force to “increase inclusion in the sport.”

The scheme, which had been within the pipeline earlier than 2020, has been expanded this 12 months as a part of F1’s Environment, Social and Corporate Governance coverage as the game addresses problems with sustainability.

Alonso says that “it is the right message, right now.”

“There are a lot of people not having an easy time right now in the world,” added the 39-year-old. “They see sport as a way of getting rid of all of those individual problems for two hours as they are in front of the television.

“While they’re having fun with themselves on the identical time, they see a advanced group — as a result of Formula One will not be simple to get everybody to agree on one thing — on this, we’re all agreed and on this, we’re all united.

“That’s a very nice message I think, and a very important message for the sport.”

Alonso as part of the Alpine F1 Team during testing in Bahrain.

Current world champion Lewis Hamilton paired with Alonso at McLaren firstly of the Briton’s profession in 2007, and requested if the Mercedes driver is the person to beat this season, Alonso replies: “Absolutely.”

“He’s a seven-time world champion. He’s the guy that has been dominating the sport in the last couple of years. They’ve been very strong. No sign of weakness at the moment in the last few years.

“Even if the laws change a little bit into 2021, their package deal and expertise must be sufficient to stay favorites.

“But, you know, Formula One is not exact mathematics sometimes. You have to cross the line first to win it. Let’s see how it goes.”

Lewis Hamilton celebrates at the the F1 Grand Prix in Bahrain.

A brand new perspective

When he first drove in F1, Alonso was a precocious expertise, turning into the game’s then youngest ever champion in 2004 when he bought the better of a dominant Michael Schumacher and the Ferrari crew.

This time round Alonso — the winner of 32 Grands Prix — has over 20 years’ value {of professional} driving expertise, and a new perspective on F1 following his first break from it in 18 years.

“You are in a small bubble all the time,” he mentioned. “With your team, with your engineers, and maybe you lose a little bit the perception of the sport in general and the entertainment that you give every two Sundays to millions of people.

“I feel being away two years and having fun with the race from the surface, perhaps you’ll be able to behave a little bit totally different right here and embrace a few of the actions that you just give to the followers.

“You are willing probably more to put on a better show because you know how it feels from the outside.”

Alonso acknowledges that 2021 might be a “transition year” for Alpine as he goals for normal high 10 placements and a handful of podium positions.

However, “Alpine has big ambitions for the future,” provides Alonso, pointing to the approaching change in laws subsequent 12 months — F1 is because of introduce main aerodynamic modifications in 2022 — as the crew appears to finally characteristic on the rostrum as race winners.

And as he appears ahead to the season’s first race — the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 28 — Alonso pauses to take a second to recollect how he felt 35 years in the past as a child in a go-kart for the primary time, which he describes as “one of the best feelings of my life. “

Now back once more on the F1 grid, Alonso says he hopes that he is “back as a better driver, but also as a better show for the people.”

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