Fernando Alonso has revealed he felt like he was "losing time" during the end of his initial F1 stint at McLaren.
The two-time world champion endured a miserable time with the Woking-based team as it struggled to progress up the grid with Honda before eventually leaving to take on the World Endurance Championship with Toyota.
Following a two-year sabbatical, the Spanish driver has returned to F1 with Alpine this season and enjoyed his best result since his comeback at the recent Azerbaijan Grand Prix in which he finished sixth.
Having said his comeback was "better than I expected", Alonso was pressed as to why he felt this way and replied: "I think two factors that are playing a big role on this.
"One, I think the two years out of the sport was needed for me after 18 seasons in F1 non-stop, full dedication, it was too demanding at one point.
"I had in my head other challenges with Le Mans, with Daytona, with the World Endurance Championship opportunity etcetera that I had to do those, in a way, and tick those boxes to be happy and to be free to come back and enjoy.
"Until I was not doing those challenges, I thought I was losing time in F1, some of the last seasons before '18.
"Once those challenges were completed, now I am free in a way to enjoy every weekend here."
Alonso praises atmosphere at Alpine
Alonso has hailed the atmosphere within the Alpine team as it tries to recover from a slow start to the season and build for the future ahead of the new era of F1 being introduced next year.
"The team is amazing," added Alonso. "What atmosphere we have now, what motivation we have in the team, in Enstone, in Viry.
"The hard work everyone is putting in, how we approach every weekend, how we approach the little success we have on some weekends and how we approach some of the bad moments on other weekends.
"We are all united in the same direction and this feels very good every week."
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