RACE DEBRIEF

    Fernando Alonso will race with titanium plates in his jaw following the cycling crash he suffered last month – but the Spaniard says it will not impact his comfort within a Formula 1 car, even if he still requires further surgery at the end of the season.

    Alonso was involved in a collision with a car when training in Lugano in February, suffering a fractured upper jaw that saw him hospitalised and needing surgery on the injury. Ahead of his return with Alpine - driving for the first time in testing on Saturday - Alonso says he is not expecting any discomfort during his first run in the A521.

    “Yeah, I’m fine,” Alonso said. “I’m happy to be here, back in the paddock and back in the sport first of all. After the accident four weeks ago I had like ten days to relax at home and after the surgery I had to relax a little bit. After nine, ten days I went back to a very normal routine on fitness, preparation.

    READ MORE: Alonso insists he’s in ‘best shape ever’ ahead of F1 return despite bike accident

    “I missed the team launch because the restrictions at that time were quite tough between Switzerland and UK but I was feeling fine. Ready to go tomorrow in the car.

    “I don’t expect any issues, honestly. I’ve been training for now three weeks or two weeks, absolutely normal. I’ve been in the simulator as well Monday and Tuesday so the preparations were not affected too much. I missed only a couple of marketing days and filming days, which I was happy about in a way! Then I covered everything yesterday afternoon, I had a very intense day of marketing activities.

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    Fernando Alonso will partner Esteban Ocon in 2021

    “I feel fine. Obviously one thing is the professional side and driving side, which I’m 100%. On the personal I will have to remove two titanium plates which I have in the upper jaw which will be removed at the end of the season. So still some things going on at the end of the championship but it will not affect my professional life.”

    Making his return to Formula 1 after two years away from the sport, the 2005 and 2006 world champion is under no illusions about how difficult 2021 will be, especially with Alpine likely to be involved in an intense midfield battle.

    “I don’t fear any particular challenge," he said. "How the midfield is right now is very competitive, so it’s something that we are aware of, that we need to maximise and make perfection every weekend if we want to score good points.

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    “Then another challenge, not only for me but everybody in the team and in the paddock, will be the 23 races. We have to be aware of that number and try to save energy when you can during the year, even in the month of June, August, September, even if you feel fresh the more you save, the better you will be in November, December.

    “There are a couple of things after being a few years out I will have to relearn a little bit and get used to but in terms of driving again or in terms of approaching the weekend working with the team, it should be quite smooth. I was not two years at home, I was racing every weekend basically, so it should be fine.”