Fernando Alonso wants tense Jenson Button relationship in 2016
"It would be no sense to have a sabbatical year " says Spaniard as he predicts McLaren-Honda will find a fix for their 2015 woes
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 05/12/15 8:43am
Fernando Alonso has admitted he is hoping his relationship with Jenson Button turns tense next year - because it will mean that McLaren-Honda have finally returned to the front of the grid.
While the acrimony between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton has resulted in Mercedes warning they will drop one of their drivers unless they learn to coexist, Button and Alonso were united in adversity throughout 2015, even staging a mock podium ceremony at Interlagos in an eloquent spoof to highlight the wretchedness of a McLaren-Honda package which only outscored the points-less Manor outfit.
But with Alonso adamant that McLaren will be back among the frontrunners next season, and Button persuaded to stay on by promises of progress in 2016, the Spaniard hopes their relationship has good reason to turn into a rivalry.
"There is always more stress when you are fighting for championships and wins within your team, as we have seen with some other teams who are having issues," Alonso told Sky Sports News HQ with pointed reference to the simmering discord at Mercedes.
"But let's say it's a good stress to have when you are fighting for big things. I'm looking forward to working with Jenson next year and if there is a bit of tension then it would be welcome as well!"
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Despite a few chinks of light emerging at Abu Dhabi, where Alonso set the third fastest lap of the season-ending race after bolting on supersofts in the closing stages, McLaren ended the year at least 1.5 seconds behind Mercedes - a chasm in a sport where a couple of tenths can be decisive.
But convinced that Honda know how to fix a faulty engine which was effectively mothballed during the limited development allowed throughout 2015, Alonso is insistent that the team can prosper in the second season of their renewed partnership.
"I am very positive about next year. We've been through very difficult times but we understand our problems and the solutions, at least on the theoretical side," said the two-time world champion.
"Next year will definitely be a much better year and our intention is to fight for the championship or, minimum, fight for podiums. There is a huge potential we need to unlock."
And it's as a result of that optimism that Alonso has categorically ruled out sitting out 2016 - despite refusing after qualifying in Abu Dhabi to deny the option had been discussed following the bombshell claim, subsequently retracted, by McLaren boss Ron Dennis that a sabbatical was under consideration.
"It is true that Ron said something like that on Friday but he then said the opposite thing on Saturday - it is not any news," Alonso countered.
"We understand, Jenson and me, the challenge in front of us and we've had to use all of our experience and knowledge to help the team grow up and improve the situation as quickly as possible. That's what we are doing and now that things are getting better it would make no sense to have a sabbatical year and miss the opportunity to finally enjoy being competitive next year."