Alonso: ‘Totally different challenge’ in Portugal

Finley Crebolder
Fernando Alonso PA

"Still a bit too stressful" for Fernando Alonso at the moment after F1 return.

Given he has never raced there before, Fernando Alonso is expecting Portimao to pose a “totally different challenge” to the season’s first two races.

After two years away from Formula 1, Alonso signed for Alpine for the 2021 campaign and beyond.

His return to the grid has been made somewhat easier by the fact the first two races took place at circuits he has raced at in F1 before, Bahrain and Imola, even if he had not done so at the latter for a good while.

The same cannot be said for round three though, which is being held at Portimao, a circuit that only hosted its first F1 race last season as a late addition to the calendar and is serving as a replacement track again this year.

The Spaniard has only ever tested there in wet conditions and is thus expecting a challenge, but is looking forward to it.

“It will be a totally different challenge this weekend at Portimão compared to Bahrain and Imola,” he said in Alpine’s preview for the race.

“The circuit is very fun to drive and I think in these modern Formula 1 cars it will be very exciting, especially with the huge elevation changes.

“I’ve only tested here before in very wet conditions, so it will be a bit of a learning curve to begin with, but I love new challenges. We want to score more points this weekend.”

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Alonso and his team have made a mixed start to the season, failing to score points in Bahrain before claiming P9 and P10 at Imola thanks to a penalty for Kimi Raikkonen.

The 39-year-old was the slower of the two cars all weekend, with Esteban Ocon beating him on Saturday and Sunday, and he admits he found things tough.

He does, however, feel the race taught him a lot and made him better prepared going forward.

“It was a very tough weekend for everyone. It was like doing three races in one, with the wet and dry conditions as well as the red flag,” he said.

“I learnt a lot from the weekend and especially after such a limited amount of testing in pre-season and only 32 laps in Bahrain during race conditions.

“Looking back at the weekend we were obviously happy to score our first points of the season, and the upgrades we brought to the car were positive and worked well. I felt happier with the overall feel of the car and I think there is more potential there for us to improve.

“The factories are working hard and it was good to see this paying off. We will take this positivity forward into Portugal and hopefully we can show further progression there.”

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