The two-time F1 world champion returned to Grand Prix racing at the start of 2021, having spent two seasons away from the series following his departure from McLaren at the end of 2018.
While the first races after his return were difficult for him, as he admitted to catching up by getting used to the cars, tires and controls, he made rapid progress in the second half of this campaign. .
And, following an impressive performance in 2022, Alonso has landed himself a long-term contract to race for Aston Martin from next year.
While he now appears to be back in top form and claims he is driving better than ever, the Spaniard concedes the path to getting there has not been an easy one.
In particular, he suggests that even he had doubts whether or not he would succeed after his first laps back in an F1 car at the end of 2020.
“Returning to sport is never a guarantee that you will be well and competitive, and you always enjoy everything in Formula 1,” he said.
“So I had some trouble, obviously, two years ago when I did the demo [in Abu Dhabi]before the young driver test in 2020.
“And I think last year maybe I wasn’t 100 per cent happy with the performance and the way the season went.
“This year I’m much happier with the car and the performance itself, and much more I think I’m ready for the next challenge.
“So you can’t underestimate the return to sport. But it takes a few races or even a full season to feel 100% again, and that’s what happened to me. But I’m happy now that I feel at a very good level.
Fernando Alonso, Alpine A521
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
While Alonso has enjoyed his time away from F1, he says returning to F1 came on his radar when plans for a new era of rules were finalised.
“In 2018 for me, even the front wing, I don’t know if you noticed, it said ‘see you later’,” he said. “It wasn’t a bye-bye.
“So in a way, in my head, it was still the 2021 rules, an opportunity to come back.
“I had different challenges in mind at that time. I wanted to race at Daytona, Dakar, Le Mans. I wanted to fight for a world endurance championship. I don’t know, I had different things , and Formula 1 was not a priority, or I no longer had my mind in Formula 1.
“But I love Formula 1. And I felt that in 2021 it could be an opportunity with the new rules and maybe everything changes a bit, in terms of the composition of the teams or their competitiveness.
“So I tick all my boxes during these years away from Formula 1, and I always watch the races at home. And yes, the rules. They postponed the rules for a year for 2022. But I’m still come in 2021.”