Fernando Alonso acknowledged that a current Formula 1 car outperforms his abilities at the moment after returning to action with Renault during a filming day in Barcelona.
Renault used one of its filming days for promotional purposes in Spain on Tuesday, allowing Alonso 100km behind the wheel of the 2020 car at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The Spaniard hasn’t driven F1 machinery since early in 2019, and admits he will need a little bit longer to get back up to speed ahead of his race return next year.
“The feeling was good,” Alonso said. “The car is outperforming me at the moment — I cannot extract the maximum from the car because getting back to F1 is not so easy. I was improving lap after lap, to give feedback to the engineers; also we had a filming day so there were cameras and drones, so it was half-pleasure, half-work today.
“I think the car has potential, we see every weekend, but there is still some room to improve so we will try and do it in the shorter term.”
Even from such a restricted day of running, Alonso says there is lots that he can learn in order to ensure he is more comfortable and the car is more to his liking the next time he drives it.
“There are many things to get ready. First will be the fitness — you have to be back in shape, train for the F1 standards. The neck and upper body will need to be reinforced. The neck feels OK after 100km but I will tell you tomorrow — maybe a little bit of pain but so far it has been good.
“Then preparations in terms of comfort, seat fitting, steering wheel, pedal position; there are many things we need to go through, also with the engineers, to have a good connection that we need to understand each other. All those kinds of things will need a bit of time, but we are using this last part of 2020 and also the winter of next year to build this momentum.”
Alonso — who watches all of the races from home with access to Renault’s onboard feeds — says he is optimistic of a competitive season in 2021 following the progress the team has shown this year, that culminated in Daniel Ricciardo’s podium in Germany on Sunday.
“We all have high hopes inside the team, looking at the progress in the championship and in the position on the weekends. But at the same time we have to have our feet on the ground knowing the regulations will be more or less the same until 2022.
“We know the deficit the midfield teams have will carry on next year… but positive energy and optimism for next year. We have great talent in the team, great sponsors, fans, so we have all the ingredients to do a good 2021.”