Alonso ‘better’ than Hamilton, Max and the rest

Date published: March 25 2021 - Jon Wilde

Fernando Alonso Lewis Hamilton

Fernando Alonso feels he is still a “better” driver than his fellow World Champions on the F1 grid – despite two years away.

The Spaniard is now only days from his first Formula 1 race since 2018, returning with the Alpine team having plied his trade in other motorsport disciplines following his exit from McLaren.

The 39-year-old’s comeback makes this season’s driver line-up perhaps the most exciting for many years, with Alonso joining three other past and present World Champions in Sir Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.

That means the winners of 14 of the last 16 Drivers’ titles will be in action, the only exceptions being retired duo Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg who triumphed once apiece.

At the opposite end of the experience scale, Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, George Russell, Lando Norris and Mick Schumacher add to an exceptional driver roster.

In a video interview with the BBC, Alonso said: “There are some young, talented guys who have been showing great performance in the junior categories and then we still have the champions.

“They were here two years ago with Lewis, Sebastian, Kimi, Verstappen – even if he is one of the younger generation, he has raced at the top level for four or five years. I think we have a very competitive grid and it will be a challenge to beat everyone on track.”

Asked if he thinks he is still as good as them, Alonso replied: “No, I’m better.”

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He added: “I’m back in Formula 1 with the aim of doing well, obviously, and the aim of having the chance to win races, hopefully to fight for Championships.

“We understand this year that will not be possible because the regulations are a little bit different but basically the same as previous years, so I don’t see any miracle happening there.

“But I think in 2022 there is a chance, with the new regulations, of mixing a little bit the order of the grid and we want to be one of those teams that surprise everybody and to do that we need to work hard this year.”

Alonso also admitted he had been “lucky” to have escaped with only injuries to his face and jaw when knocked off his bicycle while out training in Switzerland last month.

“I was lucky in the end,” he said. “I was worried at the moment it happened because I had been waiting all the second part of last year, and obviously you are waiting for this year’s team presentation and the first test etc, and then suddenly you find yourself in hospital after a bike accident and you don’t know how long it’s going to take to recover.

“Luckily, the first answer from the doctors was one week or 10 days I should be ready to go, so I had to stay at home for one week with not much activity.

“But after that I was perfectly fine, so it will not compromise at all my season and as I said, I feel lucky.”

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