ALL SMILES: McLaren-Honda's Fernando Alonso says he was happy to race in Sepang. Image: AFP / Greg Baker
SEPANG, Malaysia - In the days leading up to the 2015 Malaysian Formula 1 GP Fernando Alonso justified his decision to move from Ferrari to McLaren by saying he needed a team that could challenge Mercedes.
As the Ferrari team partied in the paddock after winning Sunday's race here and as Alonso pondered a season ahead in a distinctly uncompetitive McLaren, he could have been excused for having second thoughts
His first race for his new team - he skipped the season opener due to injury from a pre-season crash - ended predictably in retirement as another of the myriad problems with the Honda engine emerged.
This time is was a cooling system failure.
Alonso had been braced for a tough start to the season as returning engine supplier Honda played catch-up to its established rivals but his comments in the days leading up to the race suggested he believed Ferrari was incapable of challenging for race wins, let alone titles, this season or in the few years he has left in F1.
Alonso's perspective in a pre-race media conference: "I could wait and achieve some nice results, yes, but after 14 years of F1and two championships, a podium or fourth or fifth place is no longer a nice result."
'BETTER THAN I EXPECTED'
Even after the calculation was proved wrong with Sunday's win by his Ferrari successor Sebastian Vettel, Alonso was accentuating the positive long-term future.
"This whole weekend has been better than I expected," was Alonso's rose-coloured post-race assessment. "Our race pace was surprisingly good. I was running with the pack and I was even able to catch the Red Bulls before the pit stops.
"That was a nice surprise."
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