Fernando Alonso says he’s in career-best form despite being in the twilight of his time in Formula 1, and that Valentino Rossi’s MotoGP form acts as an inspiration.
At 35 years of age, and in his 15th season of grand prix racing, Alonso says he doesn’t feel like a veteran who’s beginning to lose his best form.
Instead, the McLaren driver swears he’s actually in career-best form, combining talent with a detailed understanding of how to get the best out of a car.
“I don’t think that my time in Formula 1 is over,” he said.
“I think I am driving at my best level now, and I have knowledge about the cars and the technical situation that allows me to push the car a little bit more to the limit.
"I’m very calm about the situation, I have a contract next year with this team again.”
The belief that should McLaren find front-running form again Alonso could challenge for world titles comes from 37-year-old MotoGP star Rossi, says the Spaniard.
“After some years that you are not fighting for the championship but you keep going, going, going, you know, sooner or later you will show your talent – as Valentino is doing now,” said Alonso.
“That’s a kind of inspiration for us. You need to trust in yourself, and when you have the bike or the car that performs at the best level you will be there.
"Because you cannot forget how to ride a bike, or how to drive a car, in two or three years.”
2017 regs still key to career longevity
Alonso also reinforced that it will be the 2017 regulations, not McLaren’s competitiveness, that determines whether or not he continues beyond the end of next season.
“I think that my biggest question is how I enjoy driving next year’s car; if the rules stay as they are now, and I have to save fuel, I have to save tyres, I have to drive 90 per cent and I cannot push in any of the laps, then next year will be my last year,” he said.
“Not because I’m not competitive, even if I win the championship next year, I stop because I prefer other things more.
“It’s not about what results I have next year, or how competitive McLaren is. It’s about how the Formula 1 car goes, in which direction.”
He added that even offers from Mercedes or Red Bull wouldn’t be enough to keep him in F1 if the 2017 rules don’t grab his attention.
“The answer would be that in 2017 I have a contract in McLaren, and then in 2018 I will see how the cars excite me to drive. I don’t think that I’m now motivated to a competitive car or a change in team.
“Of course I want to win, and I want to do it as soon as possible. But next year I have a contract with McLaren, and the following year, it will not be related to car performance whether I continue or not.”
Interview by Jonathan Noble