Alonso ‘completely fit’ and fine for testing, says Alpine CEO

Fernando Alonso is 'fully operational' after jaw surgery and will be fine for F1's pre-season testing in Bahrain, says Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi.

After a two-year gap, Fernando Alonso will return to F1 this season.   -  REUTERS

Fernando Alonso is fit and 'fully operational' after jaw surgery and will be fine for Formula One's pre-season testing in Bahrain, his Alpine team boss said on Tuesday.

The double world champion fractured his jaw in a collision with a car while cycling on a road near his home in Switzerland last month. "Fernando is doing very well," Alpine chief executive Laurent Rossi told reporters at the online launch of the team's new A521 car, with the Spaniard absent.

"He had a bad incident. A bike accident is rarely something that goes easy, but he was lucky, and he ended up only suffering from his jaw... the rest is totally fine. Fernando is completely fit. He is totally operational. We are even surprised that he's recovered so quickly. He confirmed to us immediately almost after the incident that he will be in Bahrain, which has been confirmed with his doctors," added Rossi.

"It looks like he was right because he's absolutely fit, and we are looking forward to seeing him next week in the car."

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Formula One's only pre-season test is in Bahrain from March 12-14. The season starts there on March 28.

Davide Brivio, the team's new sporting director, said Alonso was extremely motivated for his comeback after two years out of the sport and at the age of 39. "I can feel chatting with him, you can see how hard he's working, how strong is his desire to be back," said the Italian.

Brivio, who has joined from MotoGP champions Suzuki, said the Spaniard was not returning just for the sake of it but wanted success. "He's quite demanding but that's what I like," he added. "We need this type of driver that's really keen to put everything together, to try the maximum."

Alonso doesn't look or drive like a 39-year-old - Ocon

Esteban Ocon expects new team-mate Alonso to come back strongly with Alpine this season after two years out of Formula One and at the age of 39. The double world champion will be the second oldest driver after Alfa Romeo's 41-year-old Kimi Raikkonen.

 

Ocon, 24, said he had been impressed by the Spaniard's performance in post-season testing last December and had no doubt he would be hard to beat. "What we have seen with Fernando in Abu Dhabi is that he doesn't look like a 39-year-old and he doesn't drive like a 39-year-old," he told reporters ahead of the launch of the team's 2021 car.

"So trust me, he will be ready and he will be performing at top level. No doubt he will be strong but I will do my best against him and push him as hard as I can."

Alonso, who has replaced departed Australian Daniel Ricciardo, won his titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006 and many of the people who worked with him then are still at the Enstone factory.

The Spaniard's Formula One career, with 32 race wins, started in 2001 and includes stints at McLaren and Ferrari.

 

Ocon has yet to stand on the top step of the podium but he said Alonso would not be favoured in the team.

"He's obviously a great champion but the team is going to listen to me as well," said the Frenchman. "And I have the experience of the car from last year, we know the way that we have to develop it and at the moment Fernando says the same things.

"He brings his opinion and it's not too dissimilar. The team is trusting me for what I'm giving, for the feedback I'm giving, what we want to achieve basically. It's not because Fernando is coming that all the development is going to be his side. That's not the policy of the team and it will stay like that."