McLaren-Honda's Fernando Alonso has revealed that around half of the parts on the team's car in Abu Dhabi this weekend are specifically aimed at 2016.
The squad has already said it will use the season finale to get a head start on its winter testing programme following a troubled year, which has seen it score just 27 points, leaving it ninth in the Constructors' Championship, ahead of only Manor, and nine points shy of Sauber in P8.
Asked if it might be possible to overhaul Sauber this weekend, Alonso replied: “I don't know, really. I think it's unlikely. They are nine points ahead and we have scored points three or four times only this season, so to score ten in the final race is a bit difficult but we will try to do our best and perform a good weekend.
“But our minds are on next year's project and probably half of the car is next year's parts and philosophy as well so I think we are not too worried about beating Sauber this weekend or not.”
Meanwhile, despite all the issues this year, Alonso reiterated again that he is happy he made the decision to leave Ferrari and join McLaren-Honda.
“Tough year, obviously difficult and struggling with the pace and reliability all year. A difficult season for us 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 and I needed some new motivation and a new project that I could trust and I could believe was the only way to become champion again,” he explained.
“After one difficult season I learned so much. I enjoyed working with McLaren, with Honda, with all the Japanese discipline and culture into the team. We still remain very positive and very, very happy and I look forward to next year being a bit easier than this year, which has been difficult in terms of results.”
As for his goal for 2016, he added: “At the moment that's a question mark, I guess, where McLaren-Honda can be next year. There are a lot of expectations in the team, I think we've worked really hard all season and been united in some very difficult moments and always moving forward. I think for 2016 the main goal for the team is to come back to where we think we belong and be competitive, fighting for the top positions - I don't know if that means fighting for the world championship, fighting for victories or just being on the podium sometimes, that's always difficult to know in a complex sport like Formula One.
“It's definitely some big challenges we have ahead now this winter, but I see all the things that the team has done in the last couple of months and they all seem very logical and very positive and I'm confident it is going to be a completely different season next year. I'm happy with the progress.”