Fernando Alonso insists that he is still in love with F1, despite rumours that he may be looking elsewhere for his motorsport fix.
Despite being boosted by an unexpected fifth place in last weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix – a race that always seems to suit the Spaniard – Alonso admitted during the week that F1 was not as exciting to him as it was previously. The goal of dragging the McLaren-Honda combination back to competitiveness continues to drive him on, however, and if anyone needed any proof of his desire, Alonso says they need look no further than his attempts to return his MP4-30 to the pit-lane during qualifying.
“I want to be out there and I want to race,” the double world champion claimed, having pushed the powerless car back to the McLaren garage, “This shows how much I love my sport. It doesn't matter if you are last, if you are 15th or if you are on pole position, you want to drive the car and you want to enjoy it out there.”
Ultimately, Alonso's efforts proved in vain, as he was prevented from resuming his pursuit of a place in the top ten shoot-out.
“I understood when I arrived in the garage it was not possible [to rejoin] as, by the regulations, the car needs to arrive by itself with the engine on,” he acknowledged, a little sheepishly, “I didn't know that or I would have parked the car a little bit before…”
Despite having to come from row seven of the grid, however, Alonso was able to claim McLaren's best finish of the season, as incidents further up the order allowed him to rise to fifth at the chequered flag.
“Some opportunities arrived in our hands, we took it and it's fantastic for the team,” he admitted, before reflecting on the fact that many of his most significant results have come in Budapest, “It was always special to me, this place. I got my first victory here and, last year, I nearly fought for the victory, arriving second. That was my last podium, so to arrive this year and be fifth is a nice memory I will have.”
The jumbled order meant that Alonso had to overcome his likely successor as Spain's F1 favourite, passing Carlos Sainz shortly before the Toro Rosso rookie retired.
“Every time that I'm with Carlos on the track, I'm a little bit worried because, if we touch each other, that will show very bad!” he smiled, “It was important to pass him, because we knew [Lewis] Hamilton and some other people will arrive very strong from behind us at the end of the race, so we needed every second available to maintain position.”
Alonso eventually came home three seconds ahead of his former McLaren team-mate, who admitted to having 'a bad day at the office', and the ten points boosted both his season's tally and championship position.
“It feels great,” Alonso admitted, “We are here to compete, to win, but we are not in that position right now. Every race is a test for us - we need to keep improving and we need to keep growing. I think we know that we are going in the right direction, but it's always better if you score points. We were a little bit lucky with some of the things that have happened but, in some of other races, we have been unlucky, so we need take every opportunity. The team works 24 hours a day in the factories and so this is a day that we need to feel proud of.”