Alonso motivated by title heartache

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Losing the championship at the final race in two of the past three seasons may be enough for some drivers to enter a new year still reeling from the result, but Fernando Alonso insists that he is only motivated by his recent title heartache.

“I feel privileged to fight for the world championship two times in three years. Very few people have the opportunity to fight for a world championship.

“We lost two times in the three years in the last race and we want to have the opportunity to fight again for the world championship, hopefully again this year and hopefully to change the result. This is maybe some extra motivation for me and the team.”

Since joining Ferrari in 2010, Alonso has produced some of his best performances in the sport, and he claimed three wins last season on his way to second place in the championship. Having lost out to Sebastian Vettel by just three points, Alonso pointed to the beginning of last season as the stumbling block in his title challenge as he hopes to have a better start in 2013.

“It will be difficult to start any worse. The winter has been much better than last year. We need to start on the right foot and hopefully score some good results for the championship.”

The double world champion also admitted that he did not have a clear idea of the pecking order, but he was hopeful that Ferrari would be in the mix for the win on Sunday.

“No one knows who can win this race at the moment. I expect the five top teams to have a little advantage and not have many surprises in the first races. It’s very close and very difficult to choose one favorite. It’s very difficult and dangerous to make any conclusion.”

Brown: Dennis would have made same decision on McLaren-Honda split

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Zak Brown believes former McLaren team boss Ron Dennis would have made the same decision to cut ties with struggling Formula 1 engine partner Honda had he still been in charge at the team in 2017.

McLaren executive director Brown helped engineer a deal for the team to split with Honda at the end of the 2017 season after three tough seasons that had seen the Japanese manufacturer offer little in the way of performance or reliability.

The decision split opinion, with McLaren spurning a significant annual financial injection from Honda in order to link up with Renault, believing its on-track fortunes had to be prioritized over its commercial interests.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Brown was asked if he believed Dennis – McLaren’s long-running team chief before stepping down at the end of 2016 – would have made the same decision to cut ties with Honda.

“I think he would have,” Brown said.

“He was here when those conversations were ongoing and I think Ron always has and always will have the best interests of McLaren in his heart.

“He is Mr. McLaren. It burns him inside as much as us not to see us winning races.”

Brown also elaborated on the decision to break off the much-lauded relationship with Honda, saying the first signs of trouble with the 2017 power unit were clear in pre-season.

After a number of attempts to try and rectify the situation, Brown and his fellow team bosses felt there was no alternative but to end the Honda deal for 2018.

“We knew we were in trouble in testing in Barcelona and we worked really hard for six months to try and find solutions that would give us confidence that we’d be much more competitive in 2018,” Brown said.

“Ultimately, after trying many different things and many different ways we felt we couldn’t get there.

“Three years is a long time in Formula 1 and so we needed to change the direction to get our team back at the top.”