Fernando Alonso believes he is not just as good as the drivers that he will once again compete against on his return to Formula 1 but that he is in fact better than them.
The Spaniard is back on the grid in 2021 following two years away from F1, and will be racing alongside former rivals such as Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel as well as younger drivers who have since flourished, including Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc. Whilst Alonso acknowledges that it will be a challenge to beat them, he remains completely confident in his abilities.
"It's going to be great," Alonso told BBC Sport about the prospect of racing with both old and new faces. "I'm looking forward. There are some young talented guys, they've been showing great performance in the younger categories, and then we still have the champions that were here two years ago, with Lewis, with Sebastian, Kimi [Raikkonen].
"And [Max] Verstappen. He is one of the younger generation, [but] he is racing at the top level for already four or five years. I think we have a very competitive grid and it's going to be a challenge to beat everyone on track."
When asked if he thinks he is still as good as those big names, Alonso replied: "No, I'm better."
Alonso might not have lost any of his confidence but he is also realistic about his team Alpine's chances of being able to challenge at the front.
"I am back in Formula 1 with the aim of doing well and the aim of having the chance to win races, hopefully to fight for championships," the former world champion said. "We understand that this year it's going to be not possible because the regulations are a little bit different, but basically the same as previous years so I don't see any miracle happening there.
"But I think 2022 there's a chance with the new regulations of mixing a little bit the order of the grid, and we want to be one of those teams that surprise everybody and to do that we need to work hard in this year."