Alonso eyes 'a new championship' from French GP after 'difficult' start to F1 return

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Fernando Alonso hopes the French Grand Prix represents "a new championship" for him after a tricky return to Formula 1 so far.

The double world champion has managed two points finishes in the first five races, his best result being eighth in Portugal, as he and the other drivers who have changed teams or joined the grid in 2021 have been disadvantaged by a lack of testing.

And Alonso acknowledged that while his love for F1 is still as high as it ever has been, the racing has been tougher than expected.

"I think honestly the amount of joy and the amount of excitement is probably higher than what I anticipated," the Spaniard told Racer. "I’m really enjoying every lap out there.

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"And I’m enjoying the preparation, I’m enjoying the meetings about the setup of the car — I’m enjoying things that before, were the worst part of the weekend.

"Now I’m really enjoying even that about the weekend. Not only the track time, but the off-track I’m also enjoying a little bit more than in the past.

"Then on the driving and the results… Maybe I found it a little bit more difficult than I probably anticipated," he admitted.

"It’s not that I took it for granted that the results were coming automatically.

"I knew that the preparation was needed and the hours in the simulator and the 2018 tests in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi were needed, so I anticipated this, but I’m still struggling to maximize the potential of the car."

Highlighting Alonso's early difficulties is his battle with Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon, who has out-qualified and out-raced Fernando at every race except Bahrain.

“I think he is good and we are seeing that,” he said of Ocon via “He is in very good form and, right now, fully integrated with the team.

“[He was on the] podium last year in Bahrain, in the last part of the championship, and now he is giving perfect weekends. So this is very good, it is impressive what he’s achieving now.

“I am giving my 100 per cent and obviously that’s not enough to be at that level at the moment, so I need to keep improving.”

Also hindering Alonso's progression, according to the 39-year-old, is the variety of circuits F1 has raced on so far, making it harder to adapt.

"Baku is [coming at] a little bit of an unlucky moment," he said. "In a way, the start of the season is not the best possible calendar for a new [or] coming [back] driver.

"I had Imola, I had Portimao, two circuits I was not racing on for years, or never, like in Portimao, while the guys were racing months ago in the championship.

"[There are] two street circuits, Baku and Monaco, so [of] the first six races of the championship, four are extremely challenging to get used to.

"From France [at Paul Ricard], a new championship hopefully starts for me."