Two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso says he is “better” than the current leading crop of drivers in the sport, including reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

Alonso is returning to F1 this season with the rebranded Alpine squad and will share the grid with some of his past rivals including ex-McLaren teammate Hamilton, who enters 2021 bidding to win an unprecedented eighth world title, and Sebastian Vettel - who has joined fellow midfield runners Aston Martin following his Ferrari exit.

Speaking about his comeback in an interview with the BBC, the Spaniard said he is relishing the challenge of facing some of his old rivals, while he is also excited by F1’s younger generation of stars including Verstappen and rookie Mick Schumacher, the son of seven-time world champion Michael who Alonso famously beat to clinch back-to-back world titles in 2005 and 2006.

“It’s going to be great, I’m looking forward [to it],” Alonso explained.

“There were some young talented guys who have been showing great performance in the younger categories, and then we still have the champions, that were here two years ago with Lewis, with Sebastian, and Kimi [Raikkonen].

"Verstappen – even if he is one of the young ones and the younger generation – he is racing at the top level for already four or five years. We have a competitive grid and it’s going to be a challenge to beat everyone on track.”

Asked if he thinks he is still as good as those drivers following his two-year spell away from F1, Alonso replied: “No – I’m better”.

After pursuing new challenges in series such as the World Endurance Championship, Indy 500, and Dakar Rally, Alonso has been drawn back to F1 in his bid to add a third world championship to his list of achievements, with the 39-year-old eyeing sweeping rule changes in 2022 as his best chance to return to winning ways.

“I’m back in Formula 1 with the aim of doing well obviously, and the aim of having the chance to win races, hopefully, to fight for championships,” he added.

“We understand that this year it’s not going to be possible because the regulations are a little bit different but basically the same as previous years, so I don’t see any miracles happening there.

“But I think in 2022 there’s a chance with the new regulations of mixing a little bit the order of the grid and we want to be one of those teams that surprises everybody, and to do that we need to work hard this year."

 

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