Fernando Alonso says that he will probably come to regret having turned his back on Ferrari at the end of 2014 if the Italian team is successful and wins the championship this year.
Ferrari is heading in to 2016 confident it has closed the gap to pre-season favourite Mercedes, and hopeful that it could even overhaul the German car manufacturer.
With Alonso having ended his Ferrari contract early and joining McLaren, he is well aware that he could have had the same opportunity Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen have – which is why he has confessed to potential frustration.
When asked ahead of the Australian Grand Prix if he could regret leaving Ferrari if it ends the year as champions, Alonso said: “If they win the championship, then probably yes, because I had a contract last year and this year with them.
“So if they win the championship, probably I will find I could have had that opportunity as well, if I was able to drive as good as the champion, if they win. So that will be the case. But this is a big if.”
Pain of not winning
Alonso is well aware that McLaren is not going to make a dramatic leap forward to the front of the grid this year.
But no matter how much progress the team makes, the Spaniard has admitted that the situation will remain painful to him until the moment it is delivering victories.
“I am aware of the difficulties that we had last year and I am aware of the difficulties that we may face this year, in terms of performance,” he said.
“While you are not winning you can never be happy. There is only one driver, and one team that are happy every year. All the others are in the same position.
“Sometimes we tend to forget or we tend to differentiate who is arriving third, fifth or seventh is happier than who is arriving 12th, or is happier than who is arriving 18th, and that 22nd is the unhappiest man in the world.
“This is not true in my case. To arrive second, fifth, 11th, or 21st is exactly the same pain because you are not winning.
“At least last year, this year, I feel happy inside because I see the commitment and I see the project. One day we will win. If that day will be short term, medium term or long term I don't know, but this partnership, McLaren-Honda, will win one day.”
He added: “We want to make that time as short as possible and it is what we are working for. I understand from the fan point of view and outside, it could be easier to fight for fifth or fourth than to fight for Q1 positions, and it seems quite sad.
“But from the inside, it is the same frustration or sometimes even more frustration if you arrive fourth all the time.”