Fernando Alonso believes that his tough 2015 Formula 1 campaign with McLaren was a “necessary” stage within his racing career.
Alonso left Ferrari at the end of 2014 after five seasons with the Italian marque to rejoin McLaren ahead of its new partnership with Japanese manufacturer Honda.
McLaren-Honda enjoyed immense success in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but 2015 has proven to be a stark juxtaposition thanks to numerous problems with the power unit.
The issues have limited Alonso to just two top-ten finishes in 2015, yielding 11 points to leave him a lowly 17th in the drivers’ championships.
However, the Spaniard was upbeat when reflecting on the season in spite of McLaren’s troubles, believing it to be an important stepping stone.
“Well, tough year, obviously difficult and struggling with the pace all year and the reliability, so definitely a difficult season for us,” Alonso conceded.
“But personally I think it was necessary. It was a step forward in my career after the two championships, after five fantastic seasons fighting for the world championship but arriving second, so I needed some new motivation, some new project that I could trust and I could believe is the only way to become champion again.
“After one difficult season, as I said, I learn so much. I enjoy working with McLaren, with Honda, with all the Japanese discipline and Japanese culture into the team.
“I still remain very positive. I’m very, very happy and looking forward to next year being a little bit easier than this one that, as I said, has been difficult in terms of results.”
Looking ahead to 2016, Alonso expects McLaren to make progress and move up the grid, but is unsure whether it will make enough of a leap forward to challenge for race wins once again.
“At the moment there’s a question mark, I guess, where McLaren-Honda can be next year,” Alonso said.
“There are a lot of expectations in the team. I think we worked really all season, being united in some difficult moments and always moving forward, so I think for 2016 the main goal for the team is to come back to where we belong, we think, and being competitive, fighting for the top positions.
“I don’t know if that means fighting for the championship, I don’t know if that means fighting for victories of just being on the podium sometimes, that’s always difficult to know in a very complex sport like Formula One.
“There are definitely some big challenges ahead in this winter and I see all the things that the team has done in the last couple of months and these seem very logical, very positive and I’m confident that it’s going to be a completely different season next year and I’m happy with the progress.”