McLaren-Honda's Fernando Alonso says he considers 2012 his best season in Formula One, adding that this year was probably his third best.
Alonso has been competing in Formula One now since 2001, and while he has won the title twice – in 2005 and in 2006 with Renault – he rates 2012 as the year he performed at his peak.
That season Alonso won three races with Ferrari and took nine further podiums with the Championship battle going to the wire in Brazil. Ultimately, however, he again lost out to Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel, finishing three points adrift, after his rival fought his way back to sixth despite dropping to last at the start following contact with Bruno Senna. It was the second of two near misses with Ferrari after also coming close in 2010. The Spaniard was also runner-up in 2013 too – but then the gap to Vettel was a massive 155 points.
“2012 is probably my best season in Formula 1,” Alonso replied, when asked how he has driven this year compared to previous years. "Then it could be 2014 my second best. Then probably this one will be on the final step of the podium so far.
“I felt very confident in the car in every condition [in 2016]. Even the last 10 laps in Brazil I felt really competitive with 40-lap old tyres, things like that. That confidence in the car gave me the opportunity to drive at the limit on many occasions. I consider this year on a very high standard from my driving part of view.”
Alonso also pointed out that this year he performed a lot better than team-mate, Jenson Button, comfortably beating the Briton more often than not in qualifying and scoring more than double the amount of points – 21 versus 54.
“As you said, Jenson is an incredible driver. Last year I experienced that and saw that and this year I was able to be in front of him many, many times. Even in qualifying we are 13-5, or something like that, but in three qualifying sessions I didn't participate because I had the penalty already with the engine and so I did only Q1. So that [difference] could be even higher than that.”
Comparing 2016 to 2015, Alonso added that the difference and progress at McLaren-Honda is stark: “I'm happy with the things that we've done [in 2016], happy with the progress of the team as well. Twelve months ago we were disappointed, but sad, many things were going on in our heads last year. Instead this year everything is optimistic and everything is joy.
“We know there is still a long way to go to become champions, but the feeling is a lot happier than last year,” he concluded.