Fernando Alonso has refused to use his lack of recent experience in a Formula 1 car as an excuse for his disappointing performance in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Following a two-year spell away, Alonso has returned to F1 with Alpine with the target of winning a third world championship.
Despite an extensive testing programme last year and one-and-a-half days in the car during pre-season testing, the Spaniard is still trying to find his feet in the A150.
Alonso put in an encouraging performance at the season opener in Bahrain – his first race since Abu Dhabi 2018 – making it through to Q3 and competing for points before retiring.
But Imola proved a tougher test, with Alonso being out-qualified by team-mate Esteban Ocon and then struggling in wet conditions on his way to finishing 11th.
A post-race time penalty for Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen handed Alonso the first point of his comeback, but the double world champion admitted he has to be better prepared for future races.
Speaking about the challenge new drivers were faced with at Imola, Alonso said, as quoted by Motorsport.com: “It feels kind of obvious that every lap I do, every lap we do, these drivers, we feel more comfortable,” Alonso said about the challenge new drivers were facing.
“Here [at Imola] it was a triple experience, because from lap one to the end we changed conditions and we changed grip level so many times during the race. We had one red flag, we had one standing start, we had one rolling start.
“There were a lot of things to practice and a lot of things to go through that normally take four or five races. And we compressed all in one race with a lot of activity.
“So I’m happy with the learnings. I’m also happy with feeling the car in wet conditions, as obviously our testing was one-and-a-half days in Bahrain but it was the very first time in wet conditions, the very first time in inter conditions, the very first time in conditions with only one narrow dry line. So a lot of lessons to take from here to analyse.
“Feeling-wise, from lap one to 63, I felt 300% better in a way of how confident I am with the car. But this cannot be an excuse to say that we did not perform well, I did not perform well. I have to be more prepared and more ready next time.
“It doesn’t matter if you have little time or no time in the car, I will try to be better next time.”
Alonso admits he is more or less where he expected to be on pure pace, but expects it to take a few more races before he feels fully comfortable.
“I am where I expected to be, but you always want to be more and higher up and you want to be a little bit more confident in the car,” Alonso said. “Probably I was not confident in Bahrain or confident here, and I will not be confident in Portimao.
“This is not a feeling that goes from day to night and then you are 100% – it will take time. But I’m here to work and I’m here to get better. And a race like this one helps massively because you can feel the car in very difficult conditions and you can learn a lot more than just a normal race.”