Sky F1 pundit Paul di Resta says more was expected from a returning Fernando Alonso, but people will “start to worry” once he finds his groove.
The leading expectation ahead of Alonso’s return to Formula 1 was that he would make life hard for team-mate Esteban Ocon and be a formidable opponent for the Frenchman to beat.
However, that has not materialised in the opening stages of the 2021 campaign with Ocon emerging as the main benchmark at Alpine for Alonso to try and match.
That dynamic continued at the Monaco Grand Prix with Ocon out-qualifying Alonso and finishing higher than him on race day (Ocon P9 compared to Alonso’s P13).
While Di Resta thinks Alonso has failed to live up to initial expectations, he still believes it is too early to write the two-time World Champion off.
— Alpine F1 Team (@AlpineF1Team) May 23, 2021
“If you look where Esteban was, he had one year out and he struggled to come back. But you would say with all of Fernando’s experience you would have expected more,” Di Resta told Sky F1.
“It’s a difficult car, a difficult package to get around and Fernando will not be enjoying where he is and what he is up against.
“But give him a bit of time as he is probably one of the best drivers to come through in the past 20 years in Formula 1.
“When he starts to absolutely get into his groove then that’s when people will start to worry.”
2016 World Champion, Nico Rosberg, also thinks there is more to come from Alonso and his age, combined with his lengthy absence, means the process of getting back up to speed will still take time.
“Esteban has done a fantastic job so far, really putting it together and getting the results,” said Rosberg. “But, I would also say that Fernando is not at his best yet.
“That is normal because he is not the youngest any more, has spent two years out and it will take a bit of time for him to get back into it.”
During the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, Ocon was asked how working with Alonso differs from working with his now former team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
“I’m really enjoying working with Fernando and I also enjoyed working with Daniel. I learned a lot from Daniel last year,” Ocon said.
“But working with Fernando, he is always thinking out of the box and try new ideas that engineers may not have thought about. I think that’s his strength.
“We have a great relationship as well and he is a guy I respect a lot.”