Fernando Alonso admits he is not yet operating at “100%” after taking part in his first Formula 1 race weekend in two years at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

The two-time world champion is making an F1 comeback this season with the rebranded Alpine squad following a two-year hiatus from the sport, but his return was prematurely brought to an end on Lap 32 of 56 in Bahrain after a sandwich wrapper became lodged in his brakes, causing them to overheat.

Alonso had qualified a strong ninth on the grid and looked competitive as he battled it out with the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Carlos Sainz early on, before his race-ending issue struck.

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When it was suggested to Alonso after the race that it seemed like he had never been away, the 39-year-old Spaniard replied: “Well, I probably disagree with that, I was not at my 100%, I’m sure of that.

“It was nice, we had a couple of good battles as well, some of them they were happy ending, some of them they were not because we were overtaken.

“But I need to find more pace from myself, I need to find more confidence, I need to extract more from the car, from the brakes, execute the start better. It was not too bad but I think there’s a lot of room to improve for my side.

“Even the pitstops, I think the guys did an amazing job but my position for example, in the second pitstop was not right. Just small things and small mistakes that I keep doing from testing and this first race. Hopefully by race two, race three, I can perform better.”

Nevertheless, Alonso believes he has lost none of his abilities that helped him to record 32 grand prix victories and two world championships and expects to bring the entertainment factor this season once he is fully up to speed in the A521.

“I think it’s going to be OK, you will enjoy the comeback, you will enjoy the fight that we will put [on] every weekend,” he explained.

“As we always said from the beginning, this is a very interesting project and Alpine is in F1 for big things.

“Maybe we knew that this 2021 is a continuation of the 2020, and we are building the momentum and something hopefully more important into 2022.

“As I said, I hope you will enjoy this comeback.”