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Fernando Alonso: 'I am in the best shape of my career'

The double world champion, 40 in July, will make his return to the grid this season following a two-year absence.

Fernando Alonso says he is in the best shape of his career as he prepares to end his Formula One exodus.

The double world champion, 40 in July, will make his return to the grid this season following a two-year absence.

Alonso's hotly anticipated comeback appeared in danger after he fractured his jaw in a road cycling accident in Switzerland last month.

But the Spaniard, who had surgery following the incident, is expected to be fit for the opening round in Bahrain on March 28.

"I feel great and in the best shape I've ever been before, both physically and mentally," said Alonso following Alpine's 2021 car launch.

"I've been preparing myself for this comeback for quite a while now and I have fresh motivation.

"I had a small setback with a bike accident a few weeks ago, but luckily the preparation and my fitness will not be impacted and I'm ready to go."

Alonso, who lives in Switzerland, did not attend the rebranded Renault team's unveiling at Enstone in Oxfordshire due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.

Alpine unveiled a striking blue, red and white colour scheme – adopting the colours of the French national flag – at the launch of its first car.

Alonso spearheads the team's challenge, joining Frenchman Esteban Ocon, with former Red Bull and AlphaTauri driver, Daniil Kvyat, announced as the team's reserve driver.

Alonso left F1 in 2018 to set his sights on becoming only the second driver since Britain's Graham Hill to complete the so-called Triple Crown – winning the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans 24 Hours and Indy 500.

Although he tasted success in the famous sportscar endurance race in 2018 and 2019 he has not been able to crack the Indy 500.

Commenting on his time away, Alonso, who won consecutive titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006, and has competed in 311 grands prix, added: "I became a more complete driver.

"You constantly learn when you push yourself to new limits and when you are out of your comfort zone. Without a doubt, I'm a more competent driver now than two years ago."

Ocon added: "What we have seen with Fernando is that he doesn't look like a 39-year-old and he doesn't drive like a 39-year-old.

"So trust me, he will be ready and he will be performing at top level. No doubt he will be strong but I will do my best against him and push him as hard as I can."

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Mark Webber pictured at the Aussie Open on January 27, 2019
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