Despite not enjoying the best of results, Fernando Alonso says he is happier than he expected to be driving in Formula 1 again.
Alonso has struggled thus far in 2021, being beaten by Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon on both Saturday and Sunday in each of the last four race weekends.
That has led many to question whether coming back after two years out was the right decision for him, with Nico Rosberg comparing it to when Michael Schumacher made his largely unsuccessful comeback.
Nevertheless, Alonso says he is very much happy with his decision – more so than he expected.
“In terms of happiness or how I feel coming back, it’s better than I expected – honestly,” he told reporters in Azerbaijan.
“I’m enjoying every weekend so much, enjoying driving so much and even on the weekends that we don’t have racing, I miss the grand prix.
“So now that we have three races planned from France to Austria, I will enjoy it because I like the back-to-back.”
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In his two years away from F1, Alonso competed in a number of other categories including IndyCar and the World Endurance Championship.
He says having had the chance to do that is a reason he is enjoying being back on the grid so much, along with the atmosphere at Alpine.
“There are two factors that are playing a big role in this,” he added.
“The two years out of the sport was needed for me. After 18 seasons in Formula 1 non-stop, full dedication, it was too demanding at one point and I had in my head the challenges with Le Mans, with Daytona, with the World Endurance Championship possibility, etc.
“I had to do those and tick those boxes to be happy and to be free. I felt I was losing time in F1 in some of the last seasons before 2018. So once those challenges were completed, now I’m clear to enjoy every weekend here.
“And the second is the team. I think the team is amazing. You know what atmosphere we have now, what motivation we have in the team in Enstone, in Viry.
“The hard work everyone is putting in, how we approach every weekend, how we approach the little successes we have some weekends and how we approach the bad moments in some of the weekends. We are all united in the same direction and this feels very good every week.”