Fernando Alonso offered his first impressions on his return behind the wheel with Renault on Tuesday, insisting the Enstone outfit's R.S.20 predictably outperformed him in the shakedown run.
Alonso completed 100km at the Circuit de Catalunya at Barcelona as Renault took advantage of a remaining filming day to provide the Spaniard with an opportunity to sample its 2020 contender.
"It has been a very good day in Barcelona, our filming day," he said in an Instagram live chat.
"Only 100kms, but for me they were very special, getting back to an F1 car and to the team.
"The feeling was good. I think the car is obviously outperforming me at the moment, because I cannot extract the maximum from the car.
"Getting back to the F1 speed is not so easy. I was improving lap after lap and trying to give feedback to the engineers. Also we had some filming to do, so there were cameras, there were drones following on track. So it was hard pressure, hard work today.
"I think the car has potential, as we see every weekend. But still some room to improve, as we know, and we'll try to do it in the shorter term."
While his F1 working environment felt familiar, Alonso admitted that there were still "many things" that he needed to get used to.
"The last three cars I drove were the Dakar in January, Indycar in August, and now the F1, so they cannot be more separated, each of the three!" he commented.
"With the F1 it's a little bit easier, because it's the thing that I've been driving all my life. And after 18 years in F1 and now getting back, it's true you are missing a little bit the braking points, how quick all the corners arrive, braking performance, cornering speed performance…
"So there are many things that I need to get used to again. But it will take a shorter period of time than getting used to a completely new thing, for example Dakar and Indy."
Alonso also singled out his physical form that will require some improvement before he returns to the fray next season.
"There are many things to get ready," he said. "First will be the fitness – you have to be back in shape, you have to train for F1 standards, the neck, especially all this part of the body, the upper part, will need to be reinforced and worked on in the next couple of months.
"The neck is okay after 100kms, but I will tell you tomorrow! Maybe a little bit of pain. So far it has been good, but I know that I need to keep working.
"Then preparations in terms of comfort, seat fitting, the steering wheel, pedal positions, there are many things we need to go through. And also the engineers, trying to have a good relationship, a good connection, that we understand each other even just looking at each other.
"All those kinds of things, we will need a bit of time. We are using this part of 2020 and also the winter of next year to build the momentum."
Finally, Alonso said he's been buoyed by Renault's progress and good results of late but is nevertheless keeping his "feet on the ground" for 2021.
"We all have high hopes inside the team, looking at the team's progress in the championship, and the positions on the weekends," he said.
"At the same time we also have to have the feet on the ground, knowing the regulations will be more or less the same until 2022.
"We know that the deficit the midfield teams have this year will carry on next year. With the feet on the ground and a lot of positive energy and optimism for next year I think we have a great team, talented people in the team, great sponsors, a lot of fans around the world.
"I think we have all the ingredients to do a good 2021."