Alpine racing director Davide Brivio says Fernando Alonso was quickly up to speed in pre-season testing after two years away from Formula 1, and his motivating impact is being felt within the team.
Alonso returns to Enstone — where he won two world championships under Alpine’s previous guise as Renault — following a break from F1 when he took on the World Endurance Championship, Dakar Rally and Indy 500 among other events. While the cars have advanced and changed in that time, Brivio says Alonso was immediately at a good level during the Bahrain test last weekend.
“Regarding Fernando, I saw him quite up to the pace, up to speed,” Brivio said. “He had to do some boring jobs (on the first day), trying different setups, settings. We didn’t really look for the big performance but it was more getting back in a car, trying the different options, the different settings in order to be prepared for the race.
“Esteban (Ocon) and Fernando… we’re in the same situation as everybody else. We tested (like) everybody else and I think they can be up to speed from the first race, ready to fight at the level of the others, in terms of their preparation. Then of course it’s our responsibility to give them a good package.
“In these three days it was also difficult to really understand the level of the others or where we are. We will have to see the race weekend, probably the first few races, but I feel we will be ready for the race. What Esteban and Fernando have to do is to be able to use the full potential of the car and then it will be our job to see where we are and try to give them a better package from time to time.”
Brivio says he’s excited by the pairing of Alonso and Ocon, with the younger driver having a year’s experience with the team but still developing, and now having a new benchmark to learn from.
“I think it’s a very interesting combination, because Esteban last year… I mean, both had to stop and both came back. Esteban, he spent the first year in 2020 after coming back, and what we have seen now is something very interesting because he’s continued this coming back period. So for sure he will take advantage of having one year with the team, one year with the same car. So now is the time to see his potential and what he can do.
“Fernando is coming back now, I can see a driver in a great shape from a physical point of view. Strong motivation, really pushing and I think it’s very positive for the team to have this type of driver that tends to stimulate everybody to give the maximum, because he is doing so. The fact that he’s coming back in the most demanding class of motorsport, it shows also how strongly he is motivated and how his desire is to be back in action and to do great.
“I think it’s a great combination where Fernando will also be important to Esteban, to show how he can work in a different way with an experienced driver. And at the same time, Esteban can help Fernando because he’s becoming more competitive and I think it will be very competitive this year. So I like this combination and I’m really excited to see both in action. I think Fernando can give us good results, and Esteban for sure will follow.”