Alonso focused on helping Alpine, not results, 'surprised' by age questions

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Fernando Alonso claims helping Alpine towards its "great future" is a bigger focus than targeting results during his Formula 1 return.

This weekend, the double world champion competes in his first race since leaving his seat at McLaren following the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

One of the main reasons for Alonso's decision to retire back then was frustration at being unable to compete higher than in F1's midfield despite being one of the best drivers on the grid.

Yet now he's back but still faces the same situation at Alpine, so what would make this stint in F1 a success?

“I don’t have a clear target on what I want to achieve in this comeback. A target in terms of results," he told MotorsportWeek during Thursday's press conference in Bahrain.

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“What I want to do is test myself and try to help the team in this important moment of this transition from Renault to Alpine and towards the great future I think this team has in the next coming years and for the new set of regulations.

“I’m here to help the team with the experience and the knowledge that I have accumulated over the years and try to build momentum into the team that can carry on from 2022 and into the future.

“We all love to win, but there is only one that can do that every Sunday and at the end of the year only one can become champion, so that’s a very difficult target to set," he added.

“I will be happy and I will consider it a success if we grew up together – the team and myself – in the next coming years and we are a contender sooner than later.”

In a follow-up, Alonso was asked if his role in helping Alpine made him more of a "player/manager" or solely "a driver", with the latter being his instant response.

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But just a day after declaring he was "better" than anyone on the current F1 grid, he was a little more restrained on how he expects to perform.

“I think you just have your own confidence trying to deliver what the team expects from you. There are no guarantees that I will be as good as in 2018, but I hope so," he said.

“When I decided to be back in F1, I was trying to focus on the preparation, not only physically, but also technically, being with the team last year or the second part of the season and trying to be up to speed in the F1 language per se. Which is a little bit more technical than some other categories."

At the end of the press conference, Alonso, who is the second oldest F1 driver currently at 39, also hit back at the constant queries about his age.

“I’m so far enjoying and I know that the repeated question is my age, on my comeback, but I’m a little bit surprised because I’m not that old,” he added.

“The world champion and the guy dominating the sport (Lewis Hamilton) is 36. It’s not that I’m 20 years older or something, to have the repeat question every time.”