Fernando Alonso has explained why his supposed frustration with F1 ahead of his two-year sabbatical in 2019 and 2020 is untrue.
The two-time world champion left the sport at the end of the 2018 season after enduring four disgruntled years at McLaren where performance was plagued by a lack of pace and reliability from the team's Honda engines.
The perceived annoyance with the sport, given the lack of opportunity for drivers not with the fastest team on the grid, is what was thought to have pushed the Spaniard towards IndyCar, the World Endurance Championship and the Dakar Rally.
Yet when asked in an end-of-season interview, including GPFans, why he seemed more content following a promising return to F1 with Alpine in 2021 compared to when he left McLaren, Alonso stated: “I probably disagree with that because when I joined Ferrari, I had exactly the same questions from you guys.
"I remember perfectly answering questions, why you feel so happy now? Is being in an Italian team and you are Spanish a better fit and you feel happy?
"I said, yes, maybe it's because of that and now we have the same sense of humour. We have the same Latin characters, so maybe that's the reason why I'm happy.
“Then I came back to McLaren in 2015, and it was the same comments, why are you so happy now because in Ferrari, you felt a little bit down the last two years and frustrated, and now you seem that even if you are not fighting for the championship and it was the bad seasons of Honda, et cetera, you're still quite happy off track. So why that change from Fernando?
“Then when I was in endurance or the car on Indy, why you are so much relaxed now in Formula 1, you seem frustrated, et cetera, and now, it's the same comment.
"From 2007 and fighting with [Lewis] Hamilton in a British team, in a British environment, it was the wrong message that the people perceived and the people spread about me that from 2007, everyone is surprised how good I feel and how happy I am.
"I think I didn't change much. I'm happy today, but I don't think that I was not happy in the last seasons."
On why he took his sabbatical, Alonso continued: “I was tired in 2018, that's for sure.
"That's why I stopped Formula 1, because I had other things in my head, but I was still enjoying and I had a fantastic season also in 2018 with Zak [Brown].
"I remember we planned the Indy 500 in 2017 and then with Stoffel [Vandoorne], we had a fantastic relationship also in '18 and we had fun.
"Even if I was retiring, there was still a lot of things going on. I'm a happy person, even if this message doesn't get to everyone.”