Alonso hints at extended F1 stay, De la Rosa says third title is possible

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Fernando Alonso has hinted he could remain in Formula 1 beyond the current two years he is signed up to at Alpine.

After a two-year absence, the double world champion returns to the grid in 2021, replacing Daniel Ricciardo at the team formerly known as Renault.

The main focus for Alonso is on helping Alpine be in the best position possible to capitalise on the all-new technical regulations coming next season, which he hopes could help close the gap to Mercedes.

However, the 39-year-old explained why he to also race this year, rather than simply wait for the new rules to be introduced.

“When I put on the table everything that I could do next year, F1 seemed the most attractive,” he said via Marca.

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“The idea of returning in 2021 was always there because the rules changed, I did not know how I was going to feel in F1 after so many years and with the pandemic and the delay of the regulation to 2022, I was a bit wondering what to do, whether to continue another year apart or if it would be too long away.

“In the end I decided that the best thing was to be inside to prepare as best as possible for 2022 and not spend so much time outside and also, to be totally honest, the other categories did not give me the security that F1 could have with the pandemic," he added.

"The WEC is a bit weakened by the sponsors, cancelled races and other categories will suffer more, as always the categories with fewer resources, the weakest, suffer more.”

After leaving F1 at the end of 2018, Alonso's main focus was on completing the Triple Crown by winning the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans 24 Hours and Indianapolis 500.

As it stands, only the last one of those trio remains unfulfilled and Fernando hasn't ruled out a return to the Brickyard.

“I don’t know, the door is not closed because I don’t know what I want to do in two, three or four years when the F1 adventure ends," he said, hinting he may go beyond 2022 with Alpine.

“Nor can I say 100% that I will return.

“A bit like the Dakar, only one race a year, you prepare a lot, but you race against specialists in those disciplines, you have fewer options than them," Alonso explained.

“Although I would like to win it [the Indy 500], it is a difficult challenge and I am happy at least to have tried it and to finish this year although it was not the result we wanted.”

Switching back to F1, fellow Spaniard and former F1 driver Pedro de la Rosa voiced his delight at Alonso's comeback and is looking forward to seeing the buzz back at the Barcelona GP.

“He loves F1,” De la Rosa said during a new Movistar documentary on Fernando's return.

“These last few years away from the sport have made him appreciate F1. His return is going to be very positive for F1 in general, not just for him.

“He can win the World Championship again. [He has created] an excitement around the sport – it all used to be a bit sad before Alonso appeared.

“People used to be completely indifferent to it because there wasn’t a Spaniard who was winning.”