Lewis Hamilton: Fernando Alonso battle ‘not possible’ despite Michael Schumacher warning

F1: Alonso back in saddle after fracturing jaw on bike ride

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Fernando Alonso has been ruled out of battling Lewis Hamilton at the front of the Formula One grid with Alpine this season by Dutch racing driver Tom Coronel, who insists the Spaniard will have lost speed in his two years away from the sport.

Alonso has been out of F1 since the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix when he called time on a disappointing stint with McLaren.

The two-time world champion returns this month in Bahrain with Alpine, rebranded from Renault, and it is hoped he will be able to get right in the mix of the midfield battles.

But former Spanish racer Pedro de la Rosa, who competed in 107 Grands Prix, went one step further while discussing the return of the 39-year-old in a Movistar documentary about Alonso.

De la Rosa warned seven-time world champion Hamilton that Alonso can rival the Mercedes driver and even deny him an eighth title to surpass Michael Schumacher’s record of seven, which he equalled in 2020.

“These last few years away from the sport have made him appreciate F1,” De la Rosa said. “His return is going to be very positive for F1 in general, not just for him.

“He can win the world championship again. [He has created] an excitement around the sport – it all used to be a bit sad before Alonso appeared.

“People used to be completely indifferent to it because there wasn’t a Spaniard who was winning.”

But Coronel disagrees completely and thinks Alonso, who will turn 40 in July, will not have the same speed as before.

The former Ferrari driver would become the oldest F1 world champion since 1966, when Sir Jack Brabham reigned supreme, if he were actually able to shock the sport and claim a third Drivers’ Championship.

Presented a statement by one F1 fan who claimed Alonso could be the grid’s ‘sensation’ in 2021, Ziggo Sport analyst declared to Formule1.nl: “And then you woke up: in your dreams. If he succeeds, I’ll be the first to make a very, very deep bow.

“But that is not going to happen, it would be against all natural laws. Once you’ve left Formula One, you’re done.

“When you have been away for a year, you already lose speed. Alonso has been away for two years, so that is no longer possible.

“The youngsters are sharper, bolder, more fiery. Alonso is a fighter, but almost 40.

“You dream at night with your eyes closed and not with your eyes open during the day.”

Alonso meanwhile will not be present in person for Alpine’s car launch from Enstone headquarters in England today (Tuesday).

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The veteran driver was recently hospitalised with a fractured jaw after a collision with a car while out cycling although after surgery, he is expected to be fine to start the season on March 28.

But he will not be in England for the unveiling of Alpine’s A521, though he is still likely to take part in the event.

Alpine explained: “The sanitary situation and corresponding regulations in place do not allow him to do any communications and marketing activities while he undertakes his critical season preparation.

“We will instead publish a Q&A with Fernando for media use and he will be available for media in Bahrain for official pre-season testing.”

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