Fernando Alonso wants to end 2016 on a high as he pays tribute to outgoing team-mate Jenson Button with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix closing the current era of McLaren.
The former F1 world champion will be joined by Stoffel Vandoorne in McLaren's 2017 driver line-up, while the Woking-based team is already adjusting to its new Executive Director Zak Brown after the McLaren board placed Ron Dennis on gardening leave from his post as Chairman and CEO.
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While not commenting on the change of senior management at McLaren, Alonso has remarked at the 'end of a significant year' ahead of the changes being felt next season.
“For McLaren-Honda, this race marks the end of a significant year for the team, and the last time I'll race with my team-mate Jenson for the foreseeable future,” Alonso said. “It's been a pleasure to work with him and I'll miss him being in the garage next to me, but he'll still very much be part of McLaren-Honda's plans and I want to wish him all the best for the exciting things he has in store for the next step in his career.
“There's a unique atmosphere [at Abu Dhabi] – a combination of the 'end-of-term' feeling, anticipation ahead of the winter development push and the buzz from the fans as we go racing for the final time in 2016.”
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Alonso is expecting a tricky final race of 2016 for McLaren as he fears its weaknesses on outright power and top speed will be exposed on the Yas Marina Circuit's long straights.
After the team's disastrous 2015, Alonso has led the McLaren's recent resurgence having claimed six points finishes in the past 10 races, a run which has seen him move to 10th in the F1 world drivers' championship.
“The faster first sector and the two long straights in the middle sector at Yas Marina mean that it isn't a track that will naturally suit our package,” he said. “But over the course of Friday we'll work hard to dial in the car to make the most of what we have and extract as much performance as possible.
“It's an interesting track to set the car up for, as although it's in the desert, the track temperature cools a lot during the course of the race as we reach twilight, so the tyre conditions and grip levels are constantly evolving as we reach the chequered flag.”
McLaren looks set to finish the season sixth in the F1 world constructors' championship to mark a sizeable step up since finishing ninth last year.