STAYING POSITIVE: McLaren's Fernando Alonso skipped the Australian GP and was forced to retire early at Sepang. He remains positive however and says he has a long-term plan. Image: AP / Vincent Thian
LONDON, England - One word seemed to encapsulate Fernando Alonso's 2015 Malaysian GP weekend.
The comment, posted on Twitter under a photograph of Alonso walking in his McLaren overalls past the Ferrari garage and the Italian team's smiling mechanics, was simple: “Ouch!”
It was hard not to feel a twinge of pity for Alonso, who left Ferrari for McLaren at the end of 2014, as his former employers celebrated its first victory since 2013.
BACK IN BUSINESS
Ferrari is back in business while McLaren, with its new partners Honda, has gone backwards.
Alonso, who missed the first race of the season after a crash during testing in Spain, lasted 21 laps before retiring with cooling problems associated with his McLaren's energy recovery system.
Lewis Hamilton, who partnered Alonso at McLaren in 2007 and whose own move to Mercedes at the end of 2012 had commentators fearing he had made a mistake, felt sorry for his former team mate.
Hamilton commented after Alonso's jubilant replacement, Sebastian Vettel, won the 2015 Malaysian GP: "I sat next to Sebastian (Vettel, in the news conference) and thought to myself 'What is Fernando thinking?'
"I remember when I left McLaren and came here (to Mercedes) we were better the next year. I had a good feeling then but he's almost done the opposite of what I did. It could have been him today. It's just strange how things turn out."
'INTERESTING DAYS AHEAD'
Alonso was determined to stay positive. He exclaimed on his Twitter feed: "Interesting days ahead!! Looking forward! Very happy!!,".
He had said after the race: "It definitely has been a very nice weekend for me and a very nice surprise how the team progressed from Australia to here. If we keep this rate we will enjoy it very soon.”
That might sound like bravado but Alonso has a new challenge and a long-term plan that will take time to come to fruition.
Alonso said: "To beat Mercedes at the moment you need to do something different, you need to risk somehow. I’m in the right place, the team is so talented, very young people, a lot of Japanese people new in F1.
"It's a very exciting challenge because we will grow up all together from the very bottom and when we arrive to a podium position, we will look at each other and say 'this has been a very exciting trip’.”