Alpine F1 driver Fernando Alonso is set to undergo surgery before the beginning of the 2022 season following a bicycle crash in early 2021.
Alonso was out cycling in Switzerland back in February when a heavy bike crash landed him in hospital, with police confirming a week later that he was hit by a car.
As a result, the Spaniard required surgery to put plates in his face; it was a temporary solution to get him on the track for the 2021 season.
The 40-year-old said that the incident left him “very scared”, but he made it through his first season back. His road to recovery continues and he will now have surgery again to remove the plates ahead of the 2022 F1 season.
Alonso maintains that he is now in better shape than he was last year and is looking forward to 2022.
“I’m closer than 10 months ago. [It’s] difficult to know the limit, and where we could get next year. I think we need a good winter that’s for sure, I need to be prepared or to get ready a little bit better than last year; the accident in February with the bicycle didn’t help last year,” he said.
The two-time F1 world champion explained that he will take some time off in January for the surgery, conceding that he probably needed the break anyway.
“This January I will have to remove the plates from [my] face so I will have two weeks in January off but probably I had those off anyway even without the surgery because it’s just time to relax.
“But after that we need to go into winter testing with a good programme, physically and also in the car. And if the car is competitive, I’m sure I will be 100%.
“[Regarding] my age, I feel good. Honestly, I feel an advantage, you know? When I come to a circuit, I know the circuits. Even now, you know everyone is testing this 18-inch tyre and I know very well these tyres from the WEC [World Endurance Championship]; there is exactly the same behaviour on the tyres and the same way you have to drive the tyre… All the things I am facing – that other people are facing for the first time – for me this is the second or third time. This is good,” he added.
Asked about the implications of now being the oldest driver on the F1 grid following Kimi Raikkonen’s retirement, Alonso believes the sport was more physically demanding in previous eras.
“I think I only see the advantages. Physically, I think the cars of today are not very demanding. I think in 2004, ’05, maybe the age was a limitation, but today I did 148 laps and now at 2130, in two hours’ time I have a free practice in Dubai.
“I am racing the 24 Hours of Dubai [karting event] and there is free practice in two hours… I can do 300 laps with these cars, so there is not a problem physically.”
Despite Formula 1 having its longest season in the history of the sport in 2021, Alonso said he would have no problem kicking off the new year right away.
“I’m super strong, I’m ready, I can start the season next week in Bahrain! No, I was planning to have a different preparation next year, not because the cars will be different… but just because this winter I couldn’t do a proper preparation because of the bike accident,” he said.
Alonso finished 10th in Formula 1 last year, gaining his first podium since 2014 in Qatar. He needs 20 more points to reach 2,000 career points in the pinnacle of motorsport.