Fernando Alonso admitted Thursday that he needed the pain of his hugely-challenging, and mostly disappointing, year with McLaren-Honda to re-ignite his desire for success — and a bid for a third drivers’ world title next year.
Praised by his McLaren team-mate Briton Jenson Button on the eve of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as a much tougher man to beat on the track than current world champion Lewis Hamilton, the Spaniard said he had found facing adversity an experience that was painful, but necessary.
“It was a tough year,” said Alonso. “Obviously difficult — and struggling with the pace all year and then reliability, so definitely a difficult season for us, but personally I think it was necessary.
“(Like) a step forward in my career after two championships and after five fantastic seasons fighting for the world championship, but fighting for second.
“I needed some new motivation and a new project I could trust and believe. It is the only way to become champion again and after one difficult season I learned so much.
“I enjoy working with McLaren and with Honda, and the Japanese discipline and culture in the team. I still remain very positive and very, very happy, and looking forward to next year being easier than this one, but it was difficult this one in terms of results.”
Looking ahead, Alonso said it was impossible to forecast results in 2016, but felt certain that the once-imperious McLaren team could re-gain a good level of competitive performance.
“I don’t know if that means fighting for world championships, I don’t know if it means fighting for victories or just being on podiums,” he said. “It is always difficult to know in the complex world of F1. We have big challenges ahead in the winter and I see all the things we have done in the last couple of months.
“So, for me, it seems logical and positive and I am sure, of a different season next year.”
Button, who raced alongside fellow-Briton and newly-crowned three-time champion Hamilton at McLaren from 2010 to 2012, said that he felt Alonso was a ‘bigger challenge’ to beat as a team-mate.
Button was fifth behind Hamilton in both the 2010 and 2012 seasons, but beat him by finishing second to his fifth in 2011.
“On some race days, Lewis was untouchable,” said Button. “And on other race days, it was like, ‘where is he?’
“I’m guessing he’s a different driver now, more experienced, but Fernando is always there, always competitive.
“If he’s in front of you, you’re holding on, and if he’s behind you, he’s pushing you a lot. That’s great, though, I like that. I think that’s important in a team. It’s definitely helped us this year.” – Agence France-Presse