Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso returns to the sport with his first Grand Prix since the Spaniards dogged McLaren Honda days, commencing on Friday at the Bahrain International Circuit.
The Spaniards return naturally comes with a lot of excitement, due to the pedigree of the driver and the ‘box-office’ like nature of Alonso’s character, with there likely to be many more entertaining radio messages coming from the Number 14 Alpine Car.
Fernando Alonso can’t wait for the weekend to start, after preparing with formerly Renault, now Alpine for almost the whole of last season, a lot of effort has gone into the Spaniards return by himself and the team.
“I’m very excited for the entire weekend. There has been a lot of preparation for this moment, not only with the team during testing and the work done at both factories over the winter period, but also personally.”
Ever since Alonso signed his contract with the French team, he has put in a lot of work to be physically prepared and in the right mindset. Being away from Formula 1 and winning Le mans and taking part in the Dakar Rally and the Indy 500, which the Spanish driver has been able to learn a great deal from and will take this experience with him into the season ahead.
“Ever since I agreed to join Alpine F1 Team, I have put a lot of effort in to be both physically and mentally prepared for this season. I learnt a lot in my time away from Formula 1, especially all the different styles of racing, but I’m now back in F1 and very motivated for what should be a challenging season ahead.”
Alonso and Alpine covered many miles during testing, which has been important to give the team data on how the car runs in real life with different set-ups. They also managed to complete virtually all of the program that they set out to do in the pre-season test and this pleases Alonso. No one knows the order of the midfield until the first qualifying sessions but the two-time world champion expects there to be some surprises in the running order.
“We covered a lot of mileage during testing, which is important as it gives you something to build on for the rest of the season. We also completed most of our programme during the three days in Bahrain, so we are relatively pleased on that front. In terms of performance it’s too early to tell, and I think we won’t know the true pecking order of the grid until the first qualifying session on Saturday where everyone has low fuel, the fastest tyres fitted and full power from the engine. I expect there will be a few surprises.”
Alonso enjoys racing at the Bahrain International Circuit with mixtures of long straights and both high and low speed corners where overtaking is most definitely possible. Having already 2,000km on the circuit plus the 3 Free Practice sessions to come the Spaniard feels well prepared for the weekend ahead. As we saw during testing, sandstorms can affect lap times and how cars run and all the teams and drivers must be aware of this.
“It’s a good track with a mixture of corner speeds and long straights. Overtaking is possible here and this means it usually provides an exciting race on Sunday. We’ve also covered over 2,000km during testing, so we feel well prepared for the circuit and weekend ahead. Although, as we saw during testing, the weather conditions here can have a huge impact on car performance so we are wary of that. I’m aiming for a strong first race weekend back in Formula 1.”
After time in the R.S.20 at the end of last year in the young drivers test and 3 days of testing it is time to go racing and like all fans who eagerly wait the season opener on Sunday, Alonso can’t wait to be back in the car and go racing.
“It was fun to be back at the wheel of an F1 car for testing, but now I can’t wait to go racing. “