Hamilton, Verstappen Could ‘Overwhelm’ Fernando Alonso on F1 Comeback: Hill

Published 03/25/2021, 8:45 AM EDT
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Fernando Alonso of McLaren and Spain immediately after his crash during the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Peter J Fox/Getty Images)

Fernando Alonso will make his come back to F1 after a two-year sabbatical which saw him sample motorsport series like IndyCar, Le Mans, etc. He will return to the team where he had the most success, which has now been rebranded to Alpine from Renault. The news of his return was met with pleasant surprise from the rest of the paddock. However, the Spaniard shouldn’t expect it to be easy sailing and he will face many challenges, according to former F1 champion Damon Hill.


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Alonso has only gotten one and a half days of testing to get used to only Renault-powered cars on the grid. So, the 39-year-old will have less time to get used to the pace of the car. He will also need time to get used to the routines of F1 again after his two-year absence from the grid.

Hill thinks Fernando Alonso will take time to get ramped up to F1 standards


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In the F1 Nation podcast, former F1 Champion Damon Hill spoke about how Alonso will struggle this year, citing the example of Alain Prost in 1993. Alain Prost had taken a one-year sabbatical away from F1 in 1992. So, when he came back in 1993, he struggled initially.

The Brit said, “No but, I think the thing is that coming back for the last hurrah, the problem is in your mind, you know this is not looking for next 10 years. You’re just looking to get it right this one year.

“I don’t know how long Fernando Alonso intends to race for but, it’s not gonna be five years, is it?

“You know you can’t plan for the future like that. The pressure is on to do it now.”

Formula One F1 – Pre-Season Testing – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – Alpine’s Fernando Alonso arrives ahead of testing REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

“I got the sense with Alain when he came in. First of all, he had to cope with an active car, which he had no experience of at all. But, secondly, it was a bit of a shock to the system.

“When you’re in the stream, when you’re in the fast lane, and you’re Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen, you’re up to speed or coping.”

The 60-year-old thinks the pressures in F1 are second to none. He said, “But, when you’re coming back, it can be overwhelming again. In Formula One, the pressures are enormous and everything goes very quickly, so you have to ramp up again. And it gets harder the older you get to ramp up.”


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Can the Spaniard cement his comeback with a race win in 2021?


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This looks like a difficult task as the Alpine A521 doesn’t look that pacy on the track. The pre-season test for the team went solidly. But, at no point did the A521 trouble the timekeepers all that much. This may not give the Spaniard, the fairytale return he would be looking for.

Formula One F1 – Pre-Season Testing – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – March 14, 2021 Alpine’s Fernando Alonso in action during testing REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

However, Alonso could look to take advantage at races similar to Turkey 2020. This race saw the podium populated by the experienced campaigners in the sport. The older statesman can add that touch of professionalism and accountability to the team, which could go a long way into taking the team into challenger status in the near future.


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For now, though, the team should look to get regular podiums in 2020.


Ashish Thomas

211 articles

Ashish Thomas is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. Having followed motorsports since age 5, Ashish holds an enviable knowledge of F1 history. Ashish holds extensive experience in sports writing, having previously worked for SportsQuest and Fansided.