Fernando Alonso suggested on Saturday that he had talked about many “crazy ideas" – including a sabbatical – with McLaren chief Ron Dennis several months ago, but made clear his intention right now was to race in 2016.
Dennis fuelled speculation about Alonso's future ahead of qualifying at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix when he said there was no guarantee the Spaniard would race with the team next year if its new challenger is uncompetitive.
He went as far as saying that the Spaniard could take a sabbatical, and then return to see out the remaining two years of his three-year contract in 2017 and 2018.
Alonso expressed surprised about Dennis' comments immediately after they were made, but speaking in more detail later, he drew short of denying that the idea of a year-off had ever been talked about.
“I discussed many ideas, crazy ideas, but not at this point of the year,” said Alonso, when asked directly if he had chatted with Dennis about a sabbatical.
“We are progressing well, but unfortunately we don't see all the progress we are making, as we have been a bit unlucky.
“I think in Spa we had a penalty in the engines, in Monza we had a penalty, in Austin mechanical problems, in Mexico I didn't race, and there was Brazil. I think the combination of the last five/six races are a little bit unfair in terms of how we have progressed with car performance.
“All our intentions and minds are into next year and we feel now much more positive than three or four months ago with the recent pace of the car.
“So it is something we didn't talk about or discuss for four of five months already.”
Alonso is due to have a seat-fitting in McLaren's 2016 car next week, and has already been scheduled for simulator and engineering meetings ahead of Christmas.
He also said it would be ludicrous to turn his back on F1 for 2016 after just one test next year – as long-term potential can take a while to be unlocked.
“I have a contract for the next two years and my intention is to race,” he said. “It is too easy to go to one test and [think you] know how competitive [you are] and how the season will go. That is impossible.
“In the first test, if we are second or if we are ninth it will not change my approach or my intention to keep winning that season. It is only one test.”
He also pointed out that if a sabbatical was a serious option for him, then it would have made more sense for him to have sat out this season than next year – when Honda is expected to make progress.
“If you take a sabbatical, I take this year,” he said. “But I keep racing, keep fighting and I kept pushing a car uphill to go to the pit lane.”