No doubt stung by knowing just how close he came to pulling off an upset win in the 2012 F1 world championship, Fernando Alonso insists that his motivation to get the job done this year is higher than ever.
Speaking at an event on behalf of sponsor Santander, the Spaniard claimed that, provided he had the car to tackle the likes of Red Bull and McLaren, he was mentally strong enough to land a third world title to add to the two he took with Renault.
"I am more motivated than last year but, of course, I also need a better car than last year because we were too far from the leaders," he explained, "I was obviously motivated and wanted to win [in 2012], but I arrived in Australia and Malaysia without very much confidence of what we could do and not so much confidence in the car. I did not have so much trust in what we were doing - we were a little bit lost.
"We were 1.6secs behind the fastest car and finished [fifth]. This year, we should be on the podium. There is no reason to believe that this will not happen in the first race, but it is clear that a Red Bull or McLaren should win. It's like after watching Nadal or Federer training, you can predict who is going to win the Roland Garros. We don't ask [to be] half a second in front of everybody, but two tenths behind everybody is okay."
Having opted to miss the Jerez test in order to focus on his personal preparation, Alonso believes he is in the best physical shape ever, and has warned the rest of the field that he expects to be successful with the new F138, a car he has already described as being '200 times' better than its predecessor. Alonso won three times with the troubled F2012, including in the second round of the season at Sepang.
"Last year was the best year of my career and I was very happy with the performance, but I think this year will be better," the 31-year old claimed, "We have a better starting point, and I have learned from some of the mistakes from last year.
"The trust, confidence and motivation are better than any other year and we are constantly learning. I have prepared better. I am better than last year."