Alonso in 'the best shape ever' ahead of F1 return with Alpine

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Fernando Alonso says he is "in the best shape I've ever been" ahead of his Formula 1 return with Alpine.

The double world champion stepped off the grid at the end of 2018 to focus on other motorsport activities, notably winning the Le Mans and Daytona 24 Hours as well as competing in the Indianapolis 500 and Dakar Rally.

However, the lure of F1 remained, so when the opportunity to rejoin Renault, who have been rebranded as Alpine, emerged last year, it was a chance Renault couldn't refuse. 

“I’m very excited to be back in Formula 1 and to be part of Alpine F1 Team’s next chapter in the sport," he said after the launch of their 2021 car on Tuesday.

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"I’ve been working hard to prepare myself for racing back in Formula 1 and the target is to attack from the beginning.

"Driving the car for the first time is going to be a very exciting experience and I hope both factories can saviour the moment."

Last year Alpine claimed three podiums en route to fifth in the Constructors' standings and will face another mighty battle in the midfield up against the likes of Aston Martin, McLaren and Ferrari.

"We have a strong team and together with Esteban [Ocon] we must push on from last year and deliver results," Alonso added.

"We know it’s going to be a very competitive season, but we’re ready for the challenge. The car looks great and I have fond memories of racing with blue in Formula 1.”

Alonso's preparations for the new season did suffer a minor setback last month, however, after the Spaniard broke his jaw in a collision with a car while cycling in Switzerland.

However, after a quick recovery, Fernando, who is now 39, is confident he is at the peak of his powers.

“I feel great and in the best shape I’ve ever been before both physically and mentally," he stated.

"I’ve been preparing myself for this comeback for quite a while now and I have a fresh motivation. I’m ready!

“I normally think that it takes every driver on the grid three or four races to optimise everything on a new car, maybe a bit more if you change teams or if you are new to F1.

“To be 100% up to speed it can take at least the first couple of races, but it is the same for everybody. I also had a small setback with a bike accident a few weeks ago, but luckily the preparation and my fitness will not be impacted and I’m ready to go.”