BARCELONA (Reuters) - Fernando Alonso was a winner on his World Endurance Championship debut last weekend but the Spanish Grand Prix is a reminder of just how long it has been since he last tasted success in Formula One.
Saturday will be the fifth anniversary of the double world champion’s last grand prix victory, with Ferrari at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 12, 2013.
If Alonso is to win again, an unlikely scenario with once-dominant McLaren facing a hard road back from one of the toughest periods in their history, it is set to be unprecedented.
The longest gap between victories in Formula One history was set by Italian Riccardo Patrese, who went 99 races between his 1983 South African victory and 1990 San Marino triumph for Williams at Imola.
Alonso, still the only Spaniard to win a Formula One race, has now gone 93 and counting. But time has made him no less determined.
“I kept the motivation because I’m a competitive man. I love to win,” the Spaniard told reporters after reporting for duty at his home track on Thursday.
“Every time I go training, every time I go to bed, I have one dream in mind and that is to win a race in Formula One and to win a world championship... winning is in my mind all the time.”
Alonso is combining Formula One with the World Endurance ‘super season’, the Le Mans 24 Hours race this year and next, and was in the winning Toyota at last Saturday’s Six Hours of Spa.
That scratched a long-standing itch, as his first podium finish in any series since 2014, but that was all.
“The win last weekend in Spa will not change anything. I think it’s two different series and two different worlds,” said the driver.
“Every time that I will have a car that is close to victory, I will go for it. I did some better races in the last five years, even if the last victory was five years ago.”
After three dismal years with Honda, McLaren are now with Renault — the engines that took the Spaniard to titles in 2005 and 2006 — but there was still a long way to go.
“At the same time we were here last year with zero points,” said Alonso. “We (Alonso) are sixth in the World Championship and fourth in the constructors’ championship, so it has been a very good start, in a way.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar