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Alonso: “You cannot underestimate coming back to the sport”

Fernando Alonso left F1 and McLaren in 2018, but made his return in 2021 with Alpine

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Fernando Alonso says he had his concerns about returning to F1 because you can’t guarantee you’re still “competitive”.

Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, and Lewis Hamilton did donuts alongside each other in Abu Dhabi 2018  for what was then, Alonso’s last race. (Image Credit: @sebvettelnews on Twitter).

The Spaniard left for two seasons, then made his return to F1 with Alpine. Though he is a two-time world champion, that didn’t guarantee that he would still be at the same level he once was. 

Alonso made it clear that initially it was hard for him when he came back. Two years of missed experience with the new car developments set him back against other drivers. However, he said his performances in 2022 made him feel back at 100%. 

“Coming back to the sport is never a guarantee that you will be okay and competitive, and you still enjoy everything in Formula 1,” 

“So I had some concerns, obviously, two years ago, when I did the demo [in Abu Dhabi], before the young driver test in 2020.

“And I think last year I was not maybe 100 percent happy with the performance and with how the season went.

“This year, I’m much more happy with the car and with the performance itself, and much more I think ready for the next challenge.

“So, you cannot underestimate coming back to the sport. But you need a few races or even one full season to feel 100 percent again, and it is what happened to me. But I’m happy now that I feel a very good level.”

Temporary retirement

When Alonso left, he said it was more of a temporary see you rather than a goodbye forever. The 41-year-old had wanted to race in other series, which he did, but the love for F1 was still there. Ultimately the new regulation talks sealed the deal for Alonso’s return. 

“In 2018, for me, even the front wing, I don’t know if you noticed, it was written ‘see you later’. It was not a bye-bye.

“So in a way, in my head, it was always the 2021 rules, an opportunity to come back.

“I had in my head different challenges at that point, I wanted to race in Daytona, in Dakar, in Le Mans. And I wanted to fight for a World Endurance Championship. I don’t know, I had different things, and Formula 1 was not a priority, or I didn’t have my head in Formula 1 anymore.

“But I love Formula 1. And I felt that in 2021 it could be an opportunity with the new rules and maybe everything re-shuffles a little bit, in terms of how the teams are, or the competitiveness of them.

“So I fulfill all my boxes in those years away from Formula 1, and I still watch the races at home. And yeah, the rules. They postponed the rules one year for 2022. But I came in 2021 anyway.”

The Spaniard has now signed a two-year contract with Aston Martin F1 starting 2023.

Headline Image Credit: F1 Official Website

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