Alain Prost was “not surprised” to see Fernando Alonso struggle early into his return to Formula 1, but said the Spaniard is now “getting better and better”.
The two-time world champion returned to the F1 grid this season after two years away but failed to hit the ground running, scoring points in just two of the first five races of the 2021 campaign.
Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon also looked to have edge, before Alonso turned the tables in Baku with a season’s best sixth-place finish at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
After the race the 39-year-old said that he knew a return to form was only a matter of time and Prost agreed, with the four-time world champion predicting that Alonso would continue his progress at the French Grand Prix this weekend.
“I’m not surprised that he needs to have time,” Prost told the F1 Nation podcast. “It takes time. The simulator is good, but it’s more inside the car.
“And the physical condition, what we call more the physiology, the stomach, the whole body, the vision, the head – and don’t forget he had also the bike accident so you don’t know the effect that could have, so I was a little bit worried.
“He’s getting better and better. But still not completely at the top in my opinion. He knows that and we expect that he’ll perform better at the French Grand Prix, where it’s a different track, a wider circuit he knows well. So we’ll see, but I’m not surprised that it takes a little bit of time.”
Like Alonso, Prost spent time out of the sport midway through his career, sitting out the entirety of the 1992 season before returning in 1993 with Williams, where he would go on to claim his fourth title.
“When I came back in Portugal, I asked myself why I came back,” he explained.
“That was a shock physically, mentally. I was really, really fit, unbelievably fit, I had 5% fat on my body. But when I came in September with a really fit condition to test, I felt completely lost.
“That means that everything you do outside the car is important, but it’s not as important as all the work inside Formula 1, all the muscles that you’re training, they are different muscles, all the physiology, the vision and everything, you cannot train that outside.”