Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen leads McLaren's Fernando Alonso around the Silverstone Circuit during the 2016 British GP. (Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images
Fernando Alonso says he has no hard feelings as he looks back on his decision to quit Ferrari.
Although the Spaniard has struggled with McLaren-Honda since leaving Maranello at the end of 2014, he declared at the time that he would rather build up a new project rather than keep finishing second in red.
“When I was there, it was a great time,” he now tells Brazil's UOL Esporte.
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“We were fighting for the championships — the team was very strong and happy.
“But I felt it was the right time to go because in 2015 and 2016 I would be there for the sixth, seventh years and still be behind Mercedes. And I wanted to have a great time, not a painful time, so it was my decision.”
Indeed, some believe that Sebastian Vettel – Alonso's successor – may already be feeling some of that frustration with a series of recent outbursts and mistakes.
Pundit Marc Surer told Auto Bild: “Sebastian does not accept that Ferrari is not a winning car and that's why errors are creeping in, while Kimi just does his thing and is sometimes faster.”
But Alonso thinks Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen will be enjoying their time at Ferrari.
“Now they (Ferrari) have Kimi and Sebastian getting along together and I'm sure they're enjoying it, albeit missing the championship. But I think next year they will be stronger,” he said.
However, many pundits now regard Ferrari as being in crisis, having been overtaken in the championship by Red Bull and losing technical boss James Allison.
“It's never easy to speak from the outside,” Alonso said.
“I think this year they are better than last year, more competitive. Last year they were on the podium too but already they are 150 points behind Mercedes which is not good.
“But it's hard for anyone to compete with Mercedes,” he insisted. “It's not only a problem for Ferrari — Mercedes has an advantage that is so great since the regulations changed, so maybe next year, with the rule changes, things can be mixed up again.
“I'm sure that Ferrari will be strong again,” Alonso said.