Ron Dennis says Fernando Alonso was always prepared for the challenges he would face on his return to the McLaren stable and maintains he still has 'great years' with the team ahead of him.
Eight years on from his notoriously acrimonious split from McLaren – which came less than a year into a multi-season deal - Alonso returned to the team in 2015 as part of its much anticipated collaboration with Honda.
However, with the Honda power unit proving both underpowered and unreliable, the Spaniard would toil for much of the 2015 season as he limped to just two top ten finishes since making his F1 debut.
Though Alonso has repeatedly brushed off suggestions that he could attempt to end his three-year deal early, Dennis did spark speculation in Abu Dhabi by saying a 'sabbatical' until the car was up to speed wasn't necessarily out of the question.
However, though Dennis admits the 2015 season – McLaren's worst in more than 30 years - has been tough to endure, he insists the Alonso was not blind to the challenges he would face before agreeing to join.
“Fernando's contract is of three years' duration - no performance clauses, no nothing,” he said. “He always knew that 2015 would be a learning year. He knows equally well that, together with Honda, we'll make big improvements. So he joined us with open eyes.
Indeed, despite the dismal start to their renewed relationship, Dennis maintains Alonso has some of his best years ahead of him in a Honda-powered McLaren and doesn't doubt his motivation.
“Together with the expertise and experience he's cultivated over the past 15 years spent racing in Formula One, he still bristles with energy and enthusiasm.
“He's had better years than 2015, obviously; but he knows that great years lie ahead of him, with McLaren-Honda.”