Fernando Alonso has admitted that he has changed his outlook on how long he may remain in Formula One, claiming that being little more than a midfielder this season has reignited the burning desire to battle for the world championship as soon - and possibly for as long - as possible.
Having taken back-to-back titles against the very best Formula One had to offer in 2005 and 2006, the Spaniard had hinted that a third crown could spell the end of his career in the top flight - something he clearly expected to achieve with McLaren last season - but disappointment in an acrimonious 2007 campaign and the frustration of rejoining a Renault team that was no longer a contender has brought out a different side to Alonso.
As the F1 circus homes in on Hungary, the race that sealed his exit from Woking last season, Alonso admitted that he has rediscovered the desire to challenge for the title - and many more - in the years ahead.
"I still love this sport," he told Britain's Daily Telegraph
newspaper, "There are ups and downs, [but] the good moments are hard to forget. I can't get those feelings from anything else in life.
"It is true that, two or three years ago, I was thinking I would not stay long in F1 like Michael [Schumacher] did. I started at 19 with Minardi [and], back then, I was thinking that 19 or 20 years in F1 would be too many. F1 can sap your energy, so I was thinking I did not want to lose my life to F1. Now my opinion has changed. I'm 26 and thinking 'why not another ten or eleven years?'. I want more success and I'm ready to spend the time needed to get that success back.
"At times, it seems that I'm the only person thinking like this. But I know that Schumacher won two titles with Benetton then, for five years at Ferrari, he failed to win. I failed to win at McLaren and, this year, there is no possibility of victory - but that is only two years. Hopefully, next year, I will be a title contender again. I have plenty of time and my ambition is to win more world championships."
Where Alonso will achieve that success, if indeed he does, remains to be seen. Renault's current malaise suggests a third world title is unlikely to come at Enstone but, with his anticipated deal with Ferrari not due to come into effect until 2010, the Asturian is not short of offers. Red Bull were rumoured to have sounded him out before signing, as expected, Sebastian Vettel; BMW Sauber was mentioned in passing, but now looks likely to hold on to both Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld. Unless Kimi Raikkonen decides he has had enough a year ahead of his Ferrari contract ending, it appears that Renault may be his only option.
That, however, is to take Honda team boss Ross Brawn's words at face value. The burly Briton has suggested that Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button will be in situ for another season - but can the Brackley team really afford to miss out on someone of Alonso's proven talent should he make himself available?
"The McLaren experience didn't change my feelings about England and the people," the driver insists, "I like the culture and the respect that the people have for famous people. In Oxford, I never had any problems. I could walk about the street without being disturbed. For sure, people recognised me, but it was never intrusive. I like this mentality, this approach to life.
"English people are very proud of their country, of being British. This is something I feel with Spain. The character is very similar. Okay, the weather was not fantastic - there are some days in England when you feel sad because of the weather - but, then again, the weather is not great in Oviedo either!
"[However], nothing will be decided until the end of the summer. Then I will sit down with my advisors and decide what is best for me and Renault. There are many things to consider. Anything is possible."