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Alonso says debris caused brake failure that curtailed ‘fun’ Formula 1 return

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Fernando Alonso (ESP) Alpine F1 Team on the grid.
Bahrain Grand Prix, Sunday 28th March 2021.

Fernando Alonso was looking at the possibility of points at the Bahrain Grand Prix, his first race back in F1 since 2018, when a brake issue forced him to retire his Alpine A521 on Lap 32 of 56 – spelling the end of a Formula 1 return that the two-time champion had been very much enjoying.

Having started P9 on the grid, Alonso at least partook in some good battles before his early bath, in particular when he faced off against the Aston Martin of his former title rival Sebastian Vettel, and the Ferrari of his ex-prodigee Carlos Sainz.

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But overheating brakes put paid to all that, as Alonso retired from P16 at just over the halfway point – with the Spaniard left to reflect on what had been a “fun” comeback.

“We had some brake issues at the end that stopped us seeing the chequered flag,” said Alonso. “Apparently some debris came into the brake duct, which is a little bit unfortunate.

"But… I think the race was fun until that point. The start, the first couple of laps, some battles with my old colleagues and I did enjoy it. But obviously now you’re disappointed not to see the chequered flag.”

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Alonso’s retirement, as team mate Esteban Ocon – who’d failed to make it out of Q1 on Saturday after getting caught out by yellow flags – could only finish P13 after he had contact with Vettel, meant it was a point-less first outing for the Alpine squad.

That result puts them in league with Alfa Romeo, Haas and Williams, who also failed to score. And the typically focused Alonso said there was plenty for his new team to reflect on ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola in three weeks’ time.

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“I think we still need to improve,” said Alonso. “I think it’s very close in the midfield; a couple of tenths changes a lot of positions, so we will have to fine-tune things and execute [well] to perfect every race.

“A small mistake can cost a lot of positions in qualifying and the race,” he added. “So it’s going to be a very interesting season, I think, for you to watch.”

Fernando Alonso enjoyed 'battles with old colleagues'

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