Alonso says Renault car "outperforming me at the moment"
Fernando Alonso admitted that "the car is outperforming me at the moment" after making his Formula 1 return with Renault in Barcelona on Tuesday.
It was the former world champion's first F1 outing since a two-day test with McLaren in Bahrain in April 2019.
Alonso drove 100kms with this year's R.S.20 model in what was officially classed as a promotional event.
He conceded that it took time to readjust to the car's braking and cornering performance levels after his time away in other categories.
"It has been a very good day in Barcelona, our filming day," he said in a video interview. "Only 100kms, but for me they were very special, getting back to an F1 car and to the team.
"The feeling was good. I think the car is obviously outperforming me at the moment, because I cannot extract the maximum from the car.
"Getting back to the F1 speed is not so easy. I was improving lap after lap, and trying to give feedback to the engineers. Also we had some filming to do, so there were cameras, there were drones following on track. S o it was hard pressure, hard work today.
"I think the car has potential, as we see every weekend. But still some room to improve, as we know, and we'll try to do it in the shorter term."
Alonso said he had no concerns about dialling himself in.
"The last three cars I drove were the Dakar in January, Indycar in August, and now the F1, so they cannot be more separated, each of the three!
"With the F1 it's a little bit easier, because it's the thing that I've been driving all my life, and after 18 years in F1 and now getting back, it's true you are missing a little bit the braking points, how quick all the corners arrive, braking performance, cornering speed performance, so there are many things that I need to get used to again.
"But it will take a shorter period of time than getting used to a completely new thing, for example Dakar and Indy."
Alonso also admitted that he had to work on his physical condition as he prepares for 2021.
"There are many things to get ready. First will be the fitness – you have to be back in shape, you have to train for F1 standards, the neck, especially all this part of the body, the upper part, will need to be reinforced and worked on in the next couple of months.
"The neck is OK after 100kms, but I will tell you tomorrow! Maybe a little bit of pain. So far it has been good, but I know that I need to keep working.
"Then preparations in terms of comfort, seat fitting, the steering wheel, pedal positions, there are many things we need to go through. And also the engineers, trying to have a good relationship, a good connection, that we understand each other even just looking at each other.
"All those kinds of things, we will need a bit of time. We are using this part of 2020 and also the winter of next year to build the momentum."
Alonso is already embedded in the Renault team on race weekends, albeit in virtual form.
"Of course I watch all the races from home. I have also a nice set-up, I have a computer that the team gave to me a couple of weeks ago, so I can follow Esteban's on-board camera, Daniel's on-board camera as well, I can follow the radio communications from the team, the debriefs, the strategy meetings.
"So I know what is happening every weekend. The results are getting better. The podium in the last race was I think a very deserved podium finally, for the hard work."
Asked about prospects for next year he repeated his earlier assertion that, he doesn't expect a big change in the status quo, and that his real ambitions lie with 2022, and the new regulations.
"We all have high hopes inside the team, looking at the team's progress in the championship, and the positions on the weekends. At the same time we also have to have the feet on the ground, knowing the regulations will be more or less the same until 2022.
"We know that the deficit the midfield teams have this year will carry on next year. With the feet on the ground and a lot of positive energy and optimism for next year I think we have a great team, talented people in the team, great sponsors, a lot of fans around the world. I think we have all the ingredients to do a good 2021."
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