Fernando Alonso 'on economy mode' to be strong in 2016

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer at Interlagos
Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso's highest finish this season was fifth at the Hungarian Grand Prix in July
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Fernando Alonso says he needs to improve his own performances next year after what he admits has been a "hard" season with McLaren-Honda.

Two-time world champion Alonso said it had been hard to sustain his motivation as McLaren struggled, largely as a result of the Honda engine.

He said: "I need to improve for next year. When you're at the front and have more motivation, it helps.

"I am on, let's say, economy mode to have a strong season next year."

Alonso, regarded by many in Formula 1 as the best all-round driver in the world, is being paid a $40m (£26.3m) salary on a three-year contract with McLaren-Honda that runs until 2017.

Asked about his own performance this year, he picked only two moments when he said he had been completely satisfied.

"I did some good laps here and there," he said. "I remember Japan in second qualifying - it was at the limit. The Austin race, the whole race was good, difficult conditions, wet-dry, dry tyres on a damp track. Then I felt confident in the car and able to push.

"But apart from these two moments I don't think I had the best season."

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso finished 11th at the United States Grand Prix - a race he described as one of his most satisfying this season

Alonso has a marginally better qualifying record than team-mate Jenson Button in 2015 but is five points behind the Englishman in the championship.

However, Alonso has been ahead in races more often than not this season but has had a worse reliability record.

Alonso - who at the Japanese Grand Prix last month appeared to cast doubt on his future at McLaren, only to later insist he would see out his contract - said that it would be "frustrating and sad news" if McLaren-Honda did not improve in 2016.

But he added it would also be "a surprise if we are not very, very competitive next year".

"We have high hopes for next year and I really trust the team and really believe we have the talented people and the resources to have everything to do well," Alonso said.

"The car is responding very well. Aerodynamically, we understood the direction to go and I see when I am in the track how we can attack the corners, how fast we are in the corners, so I am not afraid next year's car will not be at the top level.

"The engine is the question mark."

He said he believed that, compared to Renault and Ferrari's struggles in their first season in the new hybrid formula last year, Honda was "a step ahead" at the end of its debut year.

But he added: "The only question now is doing a good winter."

Honda believes it understands the area in which the engine is lacking but its F1 chief Yasuhisa Arai admits that its target of closing the gap to the front will be "hard work considering the preparation time".

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