Alonso took 10 laps to find issues with A521

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Fernando Alonso Alpine PA

Fernando Alonso knew what improvements needed to be made to the A521 after just 10 laps of driving it, says Luca De Meo.

The Spaniard is returning to Formula 1 this year after two seasons out, driving for Alpine, the team formerly known as Renault.

He enjoyed a productive three days of pre-season testing in Bahrain, completing a total of 206 laps, and Renault CEO De Meo says that he knew what his new car needed after just 10.

“What I’ve heard from the team is that he looked like he’d never left F1,” De Meo told Marca.

“It took him 10 laps to find the limit of the car and then he got off and said ‘this doesn’t work, this doesn’t work either.’

“Certainly, with him, we have a great asset because he immediately pushes everyone to the limit and our aim is to give him a car that he has fun with and from there you never know what can happen in a Grand Prix.

“Maybe with some luck… I would love to put him in a position to win a race, that would be a win for everyone but who can guarantee that? We will do our best to do it, that’s for sure, for him and for Esteban as well.

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Fernando Alonso Alpine F1 Testing

The team enjoyed a strong year in 2020, finishing on the podium three times and narrowly missing out on P3 in the Constructors’ Championship after battling McLaren and Racing Point all season.

De Meo thinks that that will be the case again in 2021 but wants more than that the following season when the new regulations come into play.

“I see a close fight with Aston, McLaren and even Ferrari who have recovered,” he said.

“But we are in competition with ourselves, we want to be better race by race without going backwards of course, but it will be complicated because everyone has improved. In any case, the new spirit and Fernando himself coming in…

“We can’t expect to win and dominate etc because we are much more focused on 2022, and we are pushing towards that especially on the engine as it influences the whole aerodynamics and chassis.

“For us, the real challenge starts in 2022 but we don’t want to make 2021 a pretend season as well because we have Fernando and Fernando wants to win all the time, and we need to give the drivers a great service as a team.

“We will see how we improve and what happens.”

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