Fernando Alonso has said it will now take him “eight or nine races” to get back to 100 per cent after initially believing it would take a maximum of four events.
Even though the 39-year-old Spaniard spent two years away from the Formula 1 grid, the strong belief from the majority of the media and fans alike was he would pick up where he left off and start dominating team-mate Esteban Ocon from the get-go.
However, that has not proven to be the case so far as Alonso is struggling to challenge Ocon in both qualifying and races.
Alonso has amassed just five points in the first five races of the 2021 campaign and said he may have found the adaptation process back in Formula 1 harder than he first thought, leading to an extended timeline on when we can expect to see the real Fernando.
— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) May 25, 2021
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“Maybe I found it a little bit more difficult than I probably anticipated,” Alonso said in an interview with RACER.
“It’s not that I took it for granted that the results were coming automatically.
“I knew that the preparation was needed and the hours in the simulator and the 2018 tests in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi were needed, so I anticipated this, but I’m still struggling to maximize the potential of the car.
“I think it has something to do with the Renault/Alpine philosophy as well.
“Most of the drivers that came here, in their first year they were struggling. So there is something that, we think we have some idea what the cause of it is, but it needs maybe more time than when I signed last year to come back.
“I thought that within three or four races I would be at 100%, and I think it’s going to take eight or nine.”
Thinking of the bigger picture at Alpine, Alonso believes the team are almost there when it comes to being in a position to become team battling for the World Championship.
“I think it’s 90% ready,” he said.
“I think there are things you always need to improve.
“We saw, even in the top teams now like Mercedes or Red Bull, I remember one of the pit stops of Mercedes in Germany was 30 seconds — the famous one — and things like that.
“So there are things you need to fail in a way in different things during a weekend or a championship to learn from; those things that happen and then (you) make small changes into that structure and that organization, and be better next time.
“We are not making too many mistakes already, so I think the team is in quite good shape, but there are always things we learn every weekend, and we are making better for the next one.
“So during the season and the 18 races remaining, I think we will make another 18 smaller steps in that direction.”