Alpine driver Fernando Alonso discusses injuries to his jaw, his recovery, and his goals and expectations for F1 2021.
Alonso incurred his injuries in a road cycling accident last month, prompting initial concerns about his health and the accident possibly impeding his return to racing with Alpine at the Bahrain GP. But he explains that he returned to a fairly normal training regime shortly after his crash.
Though he missed Alpine’s car launch thereafter, the Spaniard says this was mostly because of stringent quarantine rules: “I’m happy to be here back in the paddock and in the sport, first of all,” Alonso began, speaking to media in press conference. “After my accident in Switzerland, three weeks, four weeks ago, I had like 10 days to relax at home.
“After the surgery I had to relax a little bit but after nine or ten days, I went back to very normal routine, fitness preparation, and the I miss the team launch. Mostly because the restrictions at that time. Quite tough between Switzerland and UK,” Alonso said.
The Alpine F1 driver does admit, though, that he will be competing with two titanium plates in his face – both of which, he expects, will be removed by season’s end. Despite this, Alonso says he doesn’t expect any issues to arise. “I don’t expect any issues honestly, I’ve been, as I said, training for now,” he said. “I think three weeks or two weeks, absolutely normal. I’ve been in the simulator as well on Monday and Tuesday.
“The preparations were not affected too much. I miss only a couple of marketing days and filming days which I was happy in a way. And then, recorded everything after coming to Bahrain, so I had a very intense day on marketing activities. I feel fine, obviously. One thing is the professional side and driving side which is 100%.
“On the personal side, obviously, I will have to remove two titanium plates that I have on the upper jaw. It will be removed at the end of the season. So, still there will be something going on after the season finishes, but as I said they will not affect my professional life,” Alonso disclosed.
The 39-year-old will be adapting to a new team, as well as a new generation of cars after his departure from F1 in 2018. Upon his return, though, it is a tight midfield that will pose his greatest challenge, Alonso believes. “I don’t fear any, any particular challenge, I think, let’s say that how the midfield, it is right now, it is very competitive,” he pointed out.
“So it’s something that we are aware of, that we need to maximize and we need to make perfection every weekend if we want to score, good points. Then another challenge but not only for me is going to be for everybody in the team, and everybody in the paddock, will be the 23 races. So we have to just be aware of that number as well, and try to save energy.
“When you can during the year, even in the month of June, August, September, even if you feel fresh, the more you save, the better you will be in November, December, so you know there are a couple of things that after being two years out. I will have to relearn a little bit and get used to, but in terms of driving or in terms of approaching the weekend working with a team. I think it should be quite smooth. I was not two years at home I was racing every weekend, basically. It should be fine,” Alonso said.
In F1, Alonso says his ultimate goal is Grand Prix wins and championship success. But he also acknowledges that he will need what he describes as “the package” to achieve this with Alpine. “I have [had] time to rethink some of the challenges that were not completed,” he said. “So that’s the main thing, I felt that I had something to do here again.
“To win races, to win championships I think you need a few more things than just your motivation or your beliefs. You need the package, you need the luck, you need the momentum, it is something that we want to build with the new Alpine name and with the team. So, yeah, I cannot guarantee that, but we will fight for those wins and those championships in the future if we do the things that we have in our heads. But we are not racing alone,” Alonso says.
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