Fernando Alonso Media Q&A
How do you feel ahead of your second stint in F1?
I feel great and in the best shape, I’ve ever been before both physically and mentally. I’ve been preparing myself for this comeback for quite a while now and I have a fresh motivation. I’m ready!
What did you miss the most about the sport in your absence?
Honestly, I was so busy with other challenges that I didn’t miss one thing specifically. But I was following the sport and I felt part of that environment even if I was in another paddock or series.
What excites you about this opportunity with the Alpine F1 Team?
This is a fantastic opportunity for us. We achieved so much together in the past that our lives will be forever linked, so to work again with the people in Enstone and Viry really motivates me because I have so much respect and trust for this organisation.
This year’s car is very much an evolution of the 2020 car. Is that a good or bad thing for you?
Well, I’m not thinking if it’s good or bad at the moment. It’s the rules this year and I knew that when I decided to join the project. In a way, a completely new concept and set of rules could have been welcomed already in 2021, but, at the same time, it will be nice to take this year as a building block in terms of returning to the sport and working towards the future from inside the team.
What are your targets this season with the Alpine F1 Team?
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, it’s so difficult to predict. Last year the midfield pack was very close so this year anything can happen.
How did you find your experience in Abu Dhabi back in the seat of an F1 car?
I really enjoyed it. After attending a few races last year, I really wanted to have the opportunity to drive the car, and I was able to do this after the last race of the season. A part of the joy of driving the car last year was how good it was to start working with the group of people that I will have this year on my side of the garage and build some momentum with them.
Will it take a few races to get up to full speed with the car or do you anticipate it to be immediate?
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. To be 100% 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.
You spent two years away from F1, is there one thing from your time in other racing series that you will apply to Formula 1?
Absolutely. I became a more complete driver. 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.
Assuming the planned calendar goes ahead, what track are you looking forward to racing at this year?
There are so many places that I’m looking forward to racing again. It depends on what happens with the calendar this year, but Spain, France, Monaco and Japan are to name a few places I’m excited to race at again. I will enjoy every hour of every weekend.
How will you deal with the mammoth 23 race calendar? This is the biggest F1 has ever seen, and a big jump from when you first started in the sport!
It will be demanding, and it will feel long. But I will try to adapt to be as efficient as possible to maintain a high level of energy during such a demanding schedule.
What do you feel new Racing Director Davide Brivio can bring to the team?
I’m excited about his arrival. He has a lot of experience in MotoGP and I’m sure he will find surprises in F1, some good and some he thinks we can do better with, so it will be interesting.
You’ve raced with Esteban back in 2018, are you looking forward to having him as a teammate?
Yes. I’ve known Esteban for quite a while and we have the opportunity now to race for Alpine F1 Team together, which is fantastic. He had a strong season last year especially during the second half of the year, so there is a big potential to learn things from him and to help the team into 2022.
Formula 1 is filled with rising, young talents, including Esteban, how much are you looking forward to racing against the latest generation of drivers?
I’m ready to take on the challenge. I never race against anyone thinking how old they are or questioning how many races they have done in F1, I respect everyone all the same. And to be honest, the same drivers that were performing at the top in 2018 are still here now, so I know our opponents well.
Have you seen much of the car already and how do you think it will stack up against the rest of the field?
It has been a difficult winter for everybody due to the COVID restrictions. At the factory most of our engineers had to work from home, so we have been following the progress of the car in virtual meetings. The team has done an enormous amount of work on this project and we are all proud of what has been achieved. Now we are ready to take the car racing!
What would be considered a successful year for you?
Delivering and executing the races as close to perfection as possible. 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.
You are currently third in all-time Grands Prix started, how does it feel to be one of the most experienced drivers on the grid?
It feels great! I’m looking forward to adding more races to the tally this year.
Are you excited about next year’s new rule changes?
I think 99% of people in the sport are looking forward to this and I’m one of those. I really hope the new cars and rules make the sport better and more unpredictable.
Are you concentrating more on next year given these new rule changes?
Putting it simply, no. As soon as there is competition, a race weekend, a qualifying lap, a race start, and a championship to fight for, your focus is in that moment and you have to deliver there and then.