Fernando Alonso says he and McLaren's sights remain set on winning the Formula 1 world championship next year, even though they have yet to secure a podium finish since renewing their partnership.

The Spaniard always believed that it would take time for the McLaren-Honda partnership to deliver success, and there has been some encouraging progress this season.

But while victories still seem a good step away, Alonso says his target of fighting for the title in 2017 is still there.

"Next year we want to win the world championship," Alonso said in an interview with Autosprint. "It may sound strange being where we are, but the goal is that.

"I would like to be ahead more often, but now the situation is what it is. I take it as a maturing project – waiting for better times."

Alonso admits that the frustrations of last season – when Honda's engine proved uncompetitive and unreliable – were hard to take at the time, but they have helped the learning process.

"Last year was very difficult, it was painful – because we had problems at tracks that probably could have been solved with testing," he said. "This year we see that things have improved.

"We may be the team that has improved the most in the last 12 months. The problem is that the other manufacturers have been working for 36 months and is not easy to regain the lead in half the time.

"We have achieved reliability, but we still lack performance. That will come next year. And I'm sure the time will come when we will be best of all."

Hasegawa praise

Alonso also believes that management changes made at Honda over the winter – with new boss Yusuke Hasegawa replacing Yasuhisa Arai - have worked well.

"Progress has come quickly," added Alonso. "The new boss Hasegawa comes directly from racing and is more open to new ideas – and has a different philosophy.

"Things have improved, but we are aware that we are at least eight months behind on our planned objective. Plus there are still small mistakes we make on weekends – like with strategies in qualifying or the race.

"[Incoming CEO Jost] Capito will have to get involved in those aspects, using the inspiration from his previous experiences in other categories. These small changes will help us progress quickly."

Source: Motorsport.com

Gallery: Alonso insists F1 title is still the goal for McLaren next year