The two-time world champion returned to the F1 grid last season with Alpine following a two-year hiatus. At the time of his exit, Alonso appeared frustrated with F1 after an uncompetitive stint with McLaren and was keen to seek a new challenge in other categories. 

After competing in the World Endurance Championship and events including the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Indy 500 and the Dakar Rally, Alonso announced his F1 comeback with the Enstone-based team with which he won both his world championship titles in 2005 and 2006. 

Alonso enjoyed a strong first season back on the grid and picked up his first F1 podium since 2014 as he helped Alpine clinch fifth place in the constructors’ championship. 

Asked why he seems to be more content in F1 since his return, the Spaniard replied: “I probably disagree with that, because when I joined Ferrari, I had exactly the same questions from you guys. 

“I remember perfectly, answering questions [like] ‘Why do you feel so happy now? Is it being in an Italian team and you are Spanish, it’s a better fit and you feel happy?’ 

“And I said ‘Yes, maybe it’s because of that, we have the same sense of humour, we have the same Latin character, so maybe that’s the reason why I’m happy’. 

“Then I came back to McLaren in 2015, and it was the same comments - ‘Why are you so happy now? Because in Ferrari, you felt a little bit down the last two years and frustrated, and now you seem that even if you are not fighting for the championship and it was the bad seasons of Honda etc, you’re still quite happy off-track, so why that change from Fernando?’

“And then when I was in endurance, or Dakar, or Indy, ‘Why are you so much more relaxed now? In Formula 1, you seemed frustrated?’ And now it’s the same comment.”

The 40-year-old believes the incorrect perceptions surrounding his happiness have ultimately stemmed from a troubled 2007 campaign at McLaren alongside then rookie teammate Lewis Hamilton

“I think from 2007 and fighting with Hamilton in a British team, in a British environment, it was the wrong message that people perceived and people spread about me - that from 2007, everyone is surprised about how good I feel and how happy I am,” Alonso explained. 

“I didn’t change much. I’m happy today but I don’t think I was not happy in the last seasons.

“I was tired in 2018, that’s for sure. That’s why I stopped Formula 1, because I had other things in my head. But I was still enjoying it and I had a fantastic season also in 2018. 

“With Zak [Brown, McLaren CEO], I remember we planned the Indy 500 in ’17, and then with Stoffel [Vandoorne], we had a fantastic relationship in ’18. We had fun, even if I was retiring, still a lot of things going on. 

“I’m a happy person, even if this message doesn’t get to everyone."