Alonso feeling in his prime ahead of landmark birthday

Fernando Alonso insists that he’s feeling every bit as good now as he did when he won his first Formula 1 world championship with Benetton in 2005.

That’s despite the Spanish driver turning 40 on Thursday, and becoming the second driver on the grid to be racing at that comparatively advanced age along with fellow former champion Kimi Raikkonen.

Speaking with the media, Alonso joked that he would be taking to the sunbed and taking other measures to make sure he physically looked as good as he felt in order to fend off questions about his age.

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“I will go in the solarium, I will be tanned, I will shave, and I will look very young,” he quipped when asked about how he felt about his landmark birthday. “No, it’s going to be a very normal race. No change for me.”

Alonso has already retired once from F1, walking away at the end of 2018 after a disappointing stint with McLaren in favour of competing at Le Mans in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

He opted to return to F1 with Alpine at the start of 2021 but suffered a pre-season training accident that left him with an upper jaw fracture that inevitably impacted his preparations.

“After the accident at the beginning of the year, in the first couple of races, [it was] still a part of the stress of coming back to the sport,” he admitted. “I was concerned about the jaw, about the shoulder as well, that I had the small, small injury.

“But now I’m super, super fit, and I am 200 per cent,” he said ahead of turning 40 and heading into this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix which will be his 322nd race start in F1.

“Next week is another number. I will eat some cake, but apart from that it’s going to be a very normal weekend,” he insisted. “I feel 25, so whatever number it says on the passport is not what I feel.

“It’s quite nice to be celebrating a birthday at a Formula 1 weekend so I can’t complain,” he acknowledged. “I am looking forward to the birthday celebrations. I think the team have a few things planned.

“We will be sure to have some cake and celebrate a little bit, but we have an important weekend ahead, so I’ll be fully focused on racing.

“It’s our last race before the summer shutdown and I am looking to continue our good form in Budapest.”

Alonso has finished in the points in the last five races, including a season-best sixth place in Azerbaijan, and is currently in 11th place in the drivers championship.

He will undergo further surgery on his jaw at the end of the season to remove two titanium plates that were put in place as an interim measure following his training accident in February.

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