Esteban Ocon has no doubts new Alpine teammate Fernando Alonso will be on the pace at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix despite not racing in Formula 1 since 2018.

The Spaniard returns to Formula 1 after two seasons out racing in the World Endurance Championship, Indy 500 and Dakar Rally.

Alonso’s preparations for the new season haven’t been completely plain sailing after suffering a fractured jaw in a cycling accident

Despite his accident, Alonso has insisted his fitness hasn't been impacted.

When asked if Alonso will pose more of a challenge than former teammate Daniel Ricciardo, Ocon said: “Fernando is a two-times world champion, it will be the first time I will work alongside a world champion and that’s very interesting. 

“I expect Fernando to be ready, he had a lot of testing last year and with his experience and all he has done over the years, I think straight away, from the first race, he will be on it. So, yes, I expect him to be a tough opponent, for sure.”

Ocon is no stranger to racing Alonso having done so in their days driving for Force India and McLaren.

The Frenchman hopes to maintain good relations with the two-time world champion. 

“I always had a great relationship with Fernando, even when we were racing together back in 2017 and 2018,” Ocon added. “I always so much respect for what Fernando has done over the years and also racing with him has always been very close but very fair and very enjoyable, I have to say. 

“I’m definitely looking forward to team up with him properly, in an event, so far it has been a great collaboration and I expect it to be the same for the rest of the year.”