Toiling in the midfield in an unreliable McLaren-Honda has not been as frustrating as finishing second to Lewis Hamilton in Formula 1 this year would have been, insists Fernando Alonso.
Pictures of the double world champion sitting looking at his failed McLaren seemingly mournfully in Brazilian Grand Prix Friday practice were followed by a social media sensation over a #PlacesAlonsoWouldRatherBe hashtag when he relaxed on a deckchair near the car after it ground to a halt again at the start of Q1.
But Alonso insisted drivers coming off second best to a dominant Hamilton during 2015 – such as his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg and Ferrari’s proven world champion pair Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen – have been showing their exasperation too.
“It’s true that I’ve had a frustrating season but I think we are learning a lot,” he said. “I think it’s even more frustrating when you are second or third on the podium.
“When you see some of the faces of the champions this year and some of the troubles between teammates, those have also been some strange moments and some strange pictures. I’m not sure what people expect.
“When you’ve retired and are looking for the motorbike or the safety car to take you back to the garage, you need to stay in one place. I think I didn’t do anything different.”
He reiterated he was happy to have a troubled 2015 if the lessons learned by McLaren and Honda paid off next season.
“My head is into next year and I hope to have all the problems here and zero next year,” said Alonso. “It’s a learning process and that’s the only way to succeed – to learn from our mistakes, learn from our problems, and that’s what we’re doing.”
Alonso acknowledged his current lack of results was demoralising, but said it was no more so than recent seasons in a Ferrari not quite competitive enough to win championships on merit.
“We all want to win but it’s been hard for some years now in my case when I realized a couple of races into the championship that I could not win it,” he said. “We knew that the Red Bull was one second faster than any other car [before 2014] and last year we knew that the Mercedes was one second faster than any other car.
“It was one of the reasons why I moved here to McLaren-Honda, because the only way to beat Mercedes in the near future is to have a very strong project, a different kind of philosophy for understanding the new Formula 1, and I think I’m in the right place.”