Fernando Alonso admitted that “the car is outperforming me at the moment” after making his Formula 1 return with Renault in a filming day at Barcelona.
The two-time world champion, who will end an F1 sabatical dating back to the end of the 2018 season when he replaces McLaren-bound Daniel Ricciardo next year, drove 100kms with this year’s R.S.20 model in what was officially classed as a promotional event.
It was the two-time world champion’s first F1 outing since a two-day test with McLaren in Bahrain in April 2019 and despite the limited running, Alonso described the mileage as “very special”.
“It has been a very good day in Barcelona, our filming day,” he said in a video interview.
“Only 100kms, but for me they were very special, getting back to an F1 car and to the team.
“The feeling was good. I think the car is obviously outperforming me at the moment, because I cannot extract the maximum from the car.
“Getting back to the F1 speed is not so easy. I was improving lap after lap, and trying to give feedback to the engineers.
“Also we had some filming to do, so there were cameras, there were drones following on track. So it was hard pressure, hard work today.
“I think the car has potential, as we see every weekend. But still some room to improve, as we know, and we’ll try to do it in the shorter term.”
Alonso admitted that he had to work on his physical condition as he prepares for 2021, but said the process of adjustment would not be as great as for the Dakar Rally and Indianapolis 500.
“With the F1 it’s a little bit easier, because it’s the thing that I’ve been driving all my life,” he said.
“After 18 years in F1 and now getting back, it’s true you are missing a little bit the braking points, how quick all the corners arrive, braking performance, cornering speed performance, there are many things that I need to get used to again.
“The neck is OK after 100kms, but I will tell you tomorrow! Maybe a little bit of pain.
“So far it has been good, but I know that I need to keep working.”
Alonso, who claimed the 2005 and 2006 titles with Renault, added that “we will need a bit of time” to build up the working relationship with a team he last drove for in 2009, and get the settings in the car attuned to his preferences.
“All those kinds of things, we will need a bit of time,” he said.
“We are using this part of 2020 and also the winter of next year to build the momentum.”