Fernando Alonso says he has mistakes to eradicate and wasn’t at 100% on his return to Formula 1 in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Last Sunday’s race was Alonso’s first start in F1 in over two years, dating back to the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix when he left McLaren. Now at Alpine, Alonso put in an impressive qualifying display to reach Q3 and was fighting in the points before a sandwich bag blocked a rear brake duct and forced his retirement, but despite looking sharp the Spaniard says he felt far from his best.
“I probably disagree with that — I was not at my 100% percent, I’m sure of that,” Alonso said. “It was nice; we had a couple of good battles as well, some of them were happy-ending, some of them were not because we were overtaken. But I need to find more pace from myself, I need to find more confidence, I need to extract more from the car, from the brakes, execute the start better.
“It was not too bad but I think there is a lot of room to improve from my side. Even the pit stops, I think the guys did an amazing job but my position for the second pit stop was not right. Just small things and small mistakes that I keep doing from testing and this first race. Hopefully by race two, race three, I can perform better personally.”
Even if Alonso is not feeling fully up to speed after a few years away from F1, preseason and the first race has given him further confidence that he will be able to get back to his best and that Alpine has the potential for big results in future.
“I think it’s going to be OK. You will enjoy the fight that we will (give) in every weekend.
“I think as we always said from the beginning, this is a very interesting project. Alpine is in F1 for big things; maybe we knew that 2021 was a continuation of 2020 and we are building the momentum and something hopefully more important into 2022.
Alonso was in the fight for points in Bahrain after a winter test that left a question mark over Alpine’s place in the pecking order, but despite having a full race weekend to gauge the competitiveness of the team he says there are still a lot of unknowns in the midfield.
“Difficult to say — we saw different results and a bit of mixed feelings for everybody, including us. Sometimes we look a little bit better, sometimes a little bit down and it was the same for everybody so far. Even for the top teams and top guys, (Saturday) we had an impression, Friday we had an impression, now we have a different impression.
“There are things moving up and down for everybody so we will need a couple of races to have a more established order. Meanwhile our job is to work hard and identify our weakness, if there are (any) and work on those and keep our strengths. It’s an interesting season in front of everybody.”