Alonso will finish with McLaren

The double world champion, who will be 34 in July, does not feel he will pursue either another team or an alternative venture in F1 beyond the expiry of his current contract.

Alonso believes he has returned home given it was McLaren who spawned his love for the sport in the 1980s.

Despite his bitter year with the Woking-based marque in 2007, those bridges have been firmly mended and Alonso is a much-changed, more mellow character.

It is why he can give a considered opinion as to his future, despite a difficult start to his return to the team.

Asked whether he could see himself in a team management role once he hangs up his driving gloves, Alonso replied: “I don’t think so.

“After 15, 16 or 17 years of Formula One – whatever it will be – it’s enough.

“I will close the loop, that part of my life. I started with McLaren-Honda when I was three years old – a replica (car) from my father.

“I will finish with McLaren-Honda, but the real one in Formula One, and that will be one third of my life.

“It will end with great experiences, memories, friendships, and the normal life will start that day when I retire.

“I do not see myself as a manager here or following the sport. That will be enough.”

Now nine years since Alonso won the second of his titles, whilst the desire to win still burns bright, he concedes his motivation is just as strong to aid the new McLaren-Honda’s cause.

The Japanese manufacturing giant have returned to the sport under a cloud given the lack of pace from their power-unit system.

Three retirements and a last-placed finish have been the sum total from the two races to date in Australia and Malaysia.

Going into this weekend’s race in China, and despite the problems, a seemingly content Alonso added: “Obviously I would like to win because we are sportsmen and we are all competitive.

“But also, thanks to this age and to the moment of your career, you start looking for other things.

“I’ve been lucky to win championships and many grands prix, and now sometimes I feel more happy and more proud of my job and my team doing the things we are doing now than winning a trophy.

“There are times when you arrive to a maturity and stage of mind that has different priorities in life.”

Certainly Alonso – for now – has no regrets about leaving Ferrari, despite watching Sebastian Vettel claim a deserved victory for the Maranello marque in Malaysia last time out, ending a near two-year wait since their last success.

“With Ferrari I finished second (in the championship) three times and I didn’t really want to finish second a fourth time,” added Alonso.

“Maybe, if they win the championship at the end of this year, I will have a different opinion.

“But if they finish second or third, then I will be happy with my decision (to leave).”

Such a decision is underlined by the fact Alonso is convinced the day will come when McLaren, in tandem with Honda, return to the top.

Although his words may come across as spin given the difficulties, Alonso is fuelled by the belief the team will get it right.

“There is not a day, or a grand prix, where we think, from thereon, we will be competitive,” insisted Alonso.

“Being behind on testing is a high price to pay now, but the steps forward we are taking are quite positive and the direction we are going in is the right one, definitely.

“You can get lost when you are so far behind, but I don’t think we are lost so it’s just a question of time.

“Hopefully, it will be sooner than later.”