► Alonso returned to F1 this year
► And is clearly back up to speed
► These are the two biggest challenges for him
Double-world champion Fernando Alonso is 40 today, meaning his involvement in Formula One spans two decades. To put that in some perspective, Alonso’s F1 career is older than Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda.
However, in addition to two championships and 32 race wins in F1, those 20 years also include five wins in the WEC, as well as participation in eSports, the Dakar rally and IndyCar. After his motorsport-packed break – and a mountain bike accident just months before the season began – Alonso returned to the Formula One grid this year with Alpine.
Read about Alonso's favourite qualifying format
Ahead of a fine performance at the British GP, CAR asked him what he really needed to work on after two years out. His answer? Tyres and neck strength. Those were the key differentiators between F1 and virtually every other type of motorsport, and the areas he’s had to work hardest on.
‘The biggest challenge probably was the tyres,’ revealed the double-world champion. ‘These tyres are very different than any other category in motorsport. They only work in a certain window of temperature, a window of maximum performance – and that's something that we need to readapt to a little bit.’
In addition to tyre management, explained here by Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas, Alonso also explains that the processes involved in tyre warm-up are also a team effort: ‘When you come back to Formula One, you have to work with a team of tyre specialists to make sure that you are starting your fast lap with the right temperature, and the brake at right window,’ he adds.
What about the physical stuff?
As you’d expect strength was also a key issue initially for the Spaniard, due to the sheer number of G-forces modern F1 cars can generate. ‘You have to go back to a different training regime, especially the neck,’ said Alonso. ‘It’s one of the parts of the body that is very unique in Formula One; how much you need to train it and how much you need to prepare yourself.’
So how long did it take Alonso to get back in shape?
‘Even if you think you are prepared for the first couple of races, I personally think you are fit by race three or race four, after you have completed a couple of Grand Prix.'