BARCELONA • Fernando Alonso vowed to see out his contract with his McLaren Honda team on Tuesday but then pointed to the chasm between him and a longed-for third world championship.
Speculation abounds that this is a make-or-break season for Alonso at the Anglo-Japanese team after a year of despair.
What happened in the cockpit on Tuesday was critical and Alonso emerged satisfied with a good job done and 119 solid if unspectacular laps covered.
"I have a contract here for three years. I'm not thinking about anything else," he said.
"All week there have been rumours and when there are too many months with no action on the track there is a dangerous tendency to be creative with news. Now we are on track, I hope there won't be any rumours."
On the surface at least, all wounds are healed, but Alonso is a turbulent spirit.
His performance on Tuesday was a world away from the few laps he managed in last year's first test session but he was only ninth fastest of 11 and it was almost "so what" compared to the biggest players.
His denial that he would walk out on his £25 million-a-year (S$48.9 million) contract came tempered with reality as he pointed out that he was not in the sport to make up the numbers as he did last season.
"I am here to win," he said. "I have no magic solution or crystal ball but I would like to be competitive and fighting for something important."
The Spaniard does not need Einstein to point out the scale of the task: Nico Rosberg covered an astonishing 172 laps over nine hours of driving on Tuesday that underlined his Mercedes' reliability.
Rosberg's epic 804km of driving followed 156 laps put in by Lewis Hamilton on the first day of pre-season testing in Spain.
So much mileage has been clocked by the Silver Arrows that the world champions changed their schedule yesterday to make life easier for their drivers. Hamilton was set to spend all day in the car yesterday, with Rosberg back tomorrow. But instead, the team decided to split the duties with the German lapping in the morning and Briton in the afternoon.
"With the unprecedented mileage levels seen thus far in Barcelona, we want to keep our boys in top shape for Melbourne," the team explained on Twitter ahead of the season's first race in Australia on March 20.
THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS