Alpine team launches its F1 car, says Alonso is ‘fully operational’

LONDON — Fernando Alonso is fit and ‘fully operational’ after jaw surgery and will be fine for Formula One’s pre-season testing in Bahrain, his Alpine team boss said on Tuesday.

The double world champion fractured his jaw in a collision with a car while cycling on a road near his home in Switzerland last month.

“Fernando is doing very well,” Alpine chief executive Laurent Rossi told reporters at the online launch of the team’s new A521 car, with the Spaniard absent.

“He had a bad incident. A bike accident is rarely something that goes easy, but he was lucky, and he ended up only suffering from his jaw… the rest is totally fine. Fernando is completely fit. He is totally operational.

“We are even surprised that he’s recovered so quickly. He confirmed to us immediately almost after the incident that he will be in Bahrain, which has been confirmed with his doctors,” added Rossi.

“It looks like he was right because he’s absolutely fit, and we are looking forward to seeing him next week in the car.”

Formula One’s only pre-season test is in Bahrain from March 12-14. The season starts there on March 28.

Davide Brivio, the team’s new sporting director, said Alonso was extremely motivated for his comeback after two years out of the sport and at the age of 39.

“I can feel chatting with him, you can see how hard he’s working, how strong is his desire to be back,” said the Italian.

Brivio, who has joined from MotoGP champions Suzuki, said the Spaniard was not returning just for the sake of it but wanted success.

“He’s quite demanding but that’s what I like,” he added. “We need this type of driver that’s really keen to put everything together, to try the maximum.”

Russian Daniil Kvyat will be Alpine F1 reserve driver this season, the Renault-owned team said.

Kvyat lost his race seat at Red Bull-owned AlphaTauri to Japan’s Yuki Tsunoda at the end of last season. The 26-year-old also served as Ferrari reserve in 2018 when he was also dropped by Red Bull.

He has made 110 race starts to date, with three podium finishes.

“In a year of pandemic, it is important for us to have a strong backup, and Daniil has proven that he’s a very quick and reliable driver under very difficult conditions,” said Rossi.

“He has already scored three podiums at the age of 26, so we are very, very happy to have someone who is going to be able to step up if the need arises and score the points, take the car where it should be at the end of the line.”

Alpine have Frenchman Esteban Ocon, 24, and Alonso as their race lineup.

Their reserve last year, as the Renault team, was Russian Sergey Sirotkin. Chinese driver Guanyu Zhou will be the test driver.

Six of the 20 Formula One drivers have contracted COVID-19 so far, with three including Mercedes’ seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton missing races last season and requiring a replacement.

The 2021 season starts in Bahrain on March 28.

Source: AutoBlog.com