Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2015

Year not wasted, says Alonso

The tight and twisty Marina Bay Street Circuit, seen here from Swissotel The Stamford, offers a good chance for Fernando Alonso and his McLaren team to score points.
The tight and twisty Marina Bay Street Circuit, seen here from Swissotel The Stamford, offers a good chance for Fernando Alonso and his McLaren team to score points.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Despite McLaren's troubles, Spaniard says he is in right team for the future

For the first time since his maiden Formula One season with Minardi in 2001, Fernando Alonso's racing record has a zero next to wins, poles, fastest laps and podiums.

But despite drawing blanks going into tomorrow's Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix, the Spaniard insists that he is not wasting his time at McLaren.

Alonso joined the Woking-based team this year after five frustrating seasons at Ferrari, as he attempted to add to the two F1 titles he won with Renault in 2005 and 2006.

"It's never a wasted time, even with Ferrari," said the 34-year-old.

"We didn't have a competitive car for those five years but they were very good for my experience and my career and I enjoyed my time. Great memories."

The worst finish he had in the drivers' standings with the Italian outfit, however, was sixth. On three occasions, he finished second overall. This year, however, he is languishing in 15th spot with McLaren.

The struggling team have scored only 17 points in 12 races, with Alonso and team-mate Jenson Button more concerned about finishing than looking for a podium place.

While McLaren were fifth last year in the constructors' standings, they lie ninth out of 10 teams this time around - ahead of only Manor Marussia, as Honda have failed miserably to come up with a competitive engine. Alonso has already had to retire six times this season - as many as he had experienced in his previous four years with Ferrari.

"The situation with the performance this year is lower than the expectations of this time last year," he conceded. "The results have been tough. But to work on a project like this, a really nice project, starting from zero, is quite exciting for us drivers. I still believe I am in the right place in the future."

The immediate goal is to be among the points tomorrow.

After struggling with high-speed circuits in the last two races at Spa and Monza, Alonso is ready for more joy at the tight and twisty Marina Bay Street Circuit. The third-lowest power-effect circuit on the F1 calendar behind Monaco and Hungary should mask the deficiencies of the Honda power unit.

"The whole package arrives a little bit more ready so I think we have a good opportunity to be in the points," said Alonso. He was 11th (1:50.123) and eighth (1:46.959) respectively in the first and second practice sessions yesterday.

"We don't have many chances so, hopefully, we won't miss out on this."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2015, with the headline 'Year not wasted, says Alonso'. Print Edition | Subscribe