Alonso says everything now 'coming automatically'

© XPB 

Fernando Alonso says his senses and feelings behind the wheel of an F1 car have fallen into place, and "everything is now coming automatically" for the Alpine driver.

Alonso took a relatively cautious approach to his return to the grid after a two-year hiatus from F1, allowing himself the time to settle in with his new team and to reacquaint himself with his high-strung environment.

But gradually, the Spaniard has unlocked his speed, improving his performance and outpacing Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon in the last five races during which  he scored a string of top-ten finishes.

Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski believes Alonso is now back at his very best level.

"It took him a few races, but he was conscious of it, and he worked hard with the team to rebuild that confidence and that performance, and now I think he’s just there, extracting the maximum from the car," said Budkowski.

"It was quite impressive to see him drive in Austria. The second race, the qualifying, he was really quick and without the unfortunate incident with Seb Vettel in qualifying [where he was blocked by his former title rival], we think he would have easily scored a third row on the starting grid in Austria, which says a lot about how he’s back up to speed."

At Silverstone last time out, a feisty Alonso snatched P7 in Sprint Qualifying and finished Sunday's British Grand Prix in the same position after a solid drive.

Alonso echoed Budkowski's comments and agreed that his confidence - in himself and in his car - has been building.

"I feel good, more confident now in the car," said the two-time world champion.

"I think at the beginning of the year I needed a couple of races to get used to everything, not only F1 in itself, but also the Renault.

"I think if I was jumping back in the McLaren style, and the steering wheel, etc, I could have maybe shortened that adaptation but with Renault, it was a little bit more work to be done.

"In the first races I was quite careful, I didn’t want to make a big mistake.

"Everyone was saying ‘let’s see how Fernando does after the different categories, coming back to F1 will be not easy, or will be easy, what do you think about the new generations’, all these things.

"I wanted to execute the races with no mistakes and slowly build up the confidence, and now that I have more confidence and more knowledge about the car, about the team, about the tyres, I can drive with not too much thinking.

"I can just use the instinct because everything is coming automatically, so I’m happy for that."

Alonso will celebrate his 40th birthday on July 29, a milestone that could see the 32-time Grand Prix winner become F1's most elderly statesman if Kimi Raikkonen retires at the end of the 2021 season.

But the Alpine charger says that age is just a number.

"I feel good, honestly after the [cycling] accident at the beginning of the year, the first couple of races, still part of the stress of coming back, I was concerned a bit about the jaw, the shoulder where I had a small injury," he said.

"But now I’m super fit, 200 per cent. Next week is another number but I feel 25, so whatever number it says in the passport is not what I feel."

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