(Reuters) - Double Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso has had surgery to remove the titanium plates fitted to his jaw after a road accident while cycling last February.
The 40-year-old Alpine driver, speaking during the weekend's virtual Le Mans 24 Hours race, said he had the operation last week.
The Spaniard said recently that he needed to prepare better for the new campaign than in 2021, when he made a comeback after two years out.
"The accident in February with the bicycle didn’t help last year," he said.
"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%."
Alonso, a two-times Le Mans winner with Toyota, was non-driving captain of the Alpine esports team in the virtual endurance event.
Formula One world champion Max Verstappen took part but the Red Bull driver, who narrowly missed out on pole position, crashed after seven hours while leading in his Team Redline entry.
The virtual race was won by the Realteam Hydrogen Redline outfit, whose line-up included Brazilian Formula Two racer Felipe Drugovich and British Formula E driver Oliver Rowland along with esports professionals Jeffrey Rietveld and Michal Smidl.
It was broadcast live on YouTube, Twitch and Facebook, with racers using the rFactor2 platform and competing on simulators around the world.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)