Fernando Alonso has made a fighting declaration as he explains why he doesn't see his tenure in Formula 1 anytime soon.
The two-time world champion made his debut with Minardi in the 2001 Australian Grand Prix, and the 40-year-old has gone on to take part in 337 races in the intervening 21 years
That includes stints with Renault, McLaren and Ferrari before taking up his current seat at Alpine at the start of the 2021 season following a two year break from F1.
But while he is the oldest driver on the 2022 grid, Alonso is showing no signs of his energy of interest levels flagging, meaning retirement is definitely not on the cards - not as long as he feels like he's still performing.
Asked what kept him motivated, Alonso replied simply: "Because I feel better than the others!" before going on to explain what it would take to make him consider moving on.
“When someone comes and I see [other drivers] beating me on pure abilities," he suggested. "[When] I see that I'm not good anymore at the starts, I'm not good in preparing the car, or the other side of the garage is one second faster than me and I cannot match those times.
"Maybe then I’ll raise my hand and say: 'You know, this is time for me you know to think about something else’," he added. “But at the moment, I feel the opposite. I love racing.”
That's despite a difficult start to the season for Alonso, with reliability problems at Alpine costing him points in Saudi Arabia and Australia, and then contact with Mick Schumacher forcing him to retire in Imola.
“I think there are a lot of unfortunate moments for me so far in the championship, out of my hands or out of my control, and this is another example,” Spanish daily sports newspaper Mundo Deportivo reported him as saying.
It's left Alonso with just two points from Bahrain to show for his efforts so far this season, while his team mate Esteban Ocon has picked up 20 points with a best finish of sixth place in Jeddah.
Alonso admitted that it hurt to see his compromised position in the drivers standings, but he's far from discouraged and is still not about to let it put him off or encourage him into retirement.
“I’d rather finish the season better than start it well and then finish it badly," he said.
"But at the same time, when you watch the races on TV - and I’ve been watching too many at the moment - to have only two points in the championship when I should have maybe 25 or 30 ... That’s painful.”
He previously said that talks with Alpine about extending his time at Enstone would begin “probably in summer”. The squad has Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri waiting in the wings for his opportunity as reserve driver.
But Alpine has hinted that it might find the Australian a place elsewhere on the grid if Alonso decides he wants to stay.
"It's a bit early in the season for us to position any driver anywhere in our team as well as in the other teams," said Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi. "It doesn't change anything.
:It's not a question of if but when Oscar steps into Formula 1," he added. "He will be as ready as possible, that's the only thing that matters to me."