Fernando Alonso appears a different man as he prepares for a fresh challenge with McLaren-Honda, reports ESPN.
Gone is the forlorn look of constant disappointment at Ferrari and there really is the public perception that he is like a little kid at Christmas eager to play with his new toy.
There was a similar sense of relief to be away from Maranello when Felipe Massa joined Williams last year, a feeling that the pressure of being at F1's most iconic team is finally no longer on his shoulders.
Fernando Alonso undeniably carried Ferrari during his five year spell, as uncompetitive car after uncompetitive car kept rolling out the factory every January there must have been this thought of 'well its all down to me again'.
A rejuvenated Fernando Alonso
But when McLaren announced Alonso's sensational return to Woking for 2015 last December, the Alonso seen embracing the man he fell out with publicly seven years prior, Ron Dennis, was one who was clearly happy to be in a new environment and part of one of the most exciting re-collaborations in recent memory.
Few projects could have enticed Alonso away from Ferrari, while he may have been unhappy with how the team was performing he really was a man bleeding the Italian team's blood, and he made that clear when he confirmed he would indeed be leaving Maranello, but the lure of one of Formula 1's most successful partnerships and a chance to follow in the footsteps of his hero, Ayrton Senna, and also some unfinished business from 2007 made a return to McLaren just too tempting for the Spaniard.
This year F1 can look forward to a revitalised, re-energised and re-motivated Fernando Alonso and if McLaren Honda can deliver a competitive car then we could have a classic season in our midst.
A winter of hard work
The two-time world champion revealed how hard he has worked in preparation for the new season speaking in a team press release accompanying the launch of the new MP4-30.
“Although the winter period is a time for rest and relaxation from racing, my motivation could not be stronger for the new season,” Alonso said.
“I've done a lot of training during the winter break, to reach my peak physical fitness, and I've been working hard in preparation for this new era of McLaren-Honda. I've never felt better, or more ready for a new season.”
Taking the rough with the smooth
Some saw the potential for trouble if McLaren could not meet the high expectations Alonso has, given his desire for a third drivers title, but the 33-year-old insists he is ready for what he acknowledges will be a difficult initial period of getting the new Honda power unit up and running.
“Of course, we're prepared for a steep learning curve, but it's clear to see that inside McLaren-Honda there's total commitment, and a real change in feeling, as we start this new partnership,” he explained.
“We're all focused on the challenge ahead, and I feel extremely honoured to be part of a relationship that has shared so much history together."
Only one aim
That said, Alonso isn't lowering his ambitions to challenge for the world title this season but believes if any team can make a championship contending car, its McLaren.
"My aim is to help write a new chapter in the history of McLaren-Honda," he said. "We understand the effort and teamwork required to take McLaren-Honda back to where it should be, at the front of the grid, and all our energy as a team is focused on that goal."
“Our first target will be to learn the maximum from the car at the pre-season tests, understand the package, and extract as much performance as possible.
"That won't be easy or trouble-free, but we're ready for that. Why? Because our key focus will be on development. Historically, McLaren has already been characterised by its ability to bring updates to the car quickly, and develop a strong package."
Alonso ready for McLaren return
Alonso will be first man to put some mileage onto the new MP4-30 when pre-season testing begins on Sunday in Spain, and the Spaniard admitted he felt honoured to be given the opportunity to do so.
“It's going to be a real privilege to be the first person to drive the new McLaren-Honda MP4-30 at Jerez.
“I can't wait to begin what I'm certain will be a very exciting new chapter in my career. I'm as motivated now as I was when I was given my first opportunity at the wheel of an F1 car,” he added.
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