Fernando Alonso admitted he was not fully confident that he would perform at a high level upon his Formula 1 return in 2021, but claims that has changed.
Alonso returned to F1 with Alpine after a two-year hiatus, the team with which he won his two Titles back in 2005 and 2006 when they were called Renault.
Now at the age of 41, he is now gearing up for the 2023 season, his third after his comeback, but with a new team; Aston Martin.
He admitted that he had doubts upon his return, but insists leaves Alpine to Aston Martin more assured of his form and performance.
“The last few races [of the season], like Mexico or Austin or Brazil, I think I am closer to the level of 2012 or 2010 or whatever than last year when I was not in control of everything,” Alonso told the BBC.
“Last year I was not 100% confident with the car or my comeback,” he revealed. “It was OK, the season, but this year I am much more up to speed and much more proud of how it has been.”
Alonso secure a podium on his comeback season, in Qatar, but had a miserable campaign marred with reliability woes in 2022, six time to be precise, even concluding his stint with Alpine with a DNF at the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Results don’t matter as much as how you feel
That means he lost a lot of points and finished 2022 ninth in the Drivers’ Championship, but he is undeterred by that statistic.
“It matters what I feel inside,” he insisted. And even if I score good points and finish OK in the standings, I maybe didn’t have the best feeling. This year even if don’t score any points I know I am switching to next year and a new project knowing I am 100% into the sport again.”
As for his move to Aston Martin, the Spaniard said: “I believe when I can make differences when it comes to crucial moments of the races or experiences. We all have high talent driving cars fast; it is more about the head and how you control a few things.
“I only continue because I believe we will have a chance,” he went on. “Next year to close the gap is unrealistic, but we need to put the baseline for future cars and to work better than the people around us.
“This is a very competitive environment and to become a champion you need to deliver something special. I am ready to deliver something special from my side and I expect the same from them,” Alonso declared.
A third Title is possible one day
Despite being out of the winners’ circle for some time now, the winner of 32 grands prix still believes he can taste Title success again.
“Ultimately winning the championship is what motivates me every day so [I am] still thinking the third Alonso: Last year I wasn’t confident with my comeback will be possible one day,” he revealed.
“Maybe not next year, but who knows in the future. And now with this project of Aston Martin there are other things appealing to me – to try to build the team not from scratch but after this year they are hoping [to be] much better in the next few seasons.
“They have a lot of new people in the team, great talent, new facilities so it seems I join in this moment where we can join something together and become world champion one day.
“I don’t know if I will be driving that year in the car but if not I hope I will still be in the organization somehow and still be proud of that championship,” he maintained.
Alonso is not 20 anymore
However, Alonso is not getting ahead of himself regarding his future; he said: “I will take it year by year.
“Last season [I was] maybe not 100%. If I do a few seasons like last year, even if I perform OK from the outside, but I don’t feel happy with myself, maybe I stop. And [if I drive like I did] this year for example, that I feel very proud of, I will continue whatever the results are next year because I know that whatever are the results I can give to the team.”
Racing in his forties, the man who replaced Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin claims he had to change many of his routines and methods of preparation to remain in top form.
“I have to change many things because the moment of my career now, the physical aspects, I have to change a few of my training routines, my travelling, events,” he revealed.
“F1 is very demanding on energy, off-track as well. So I have to maybe be more efficient in many things I do in the weekends or the weeks.
“On the physical aspect, I have to do much more than what I used to because I am not 20 any more,” he admitted.