By Alan Baldwin
SPIELBERG, Austria (Reuters) - Fernando Alonso has credited McLaren with restoring the motivation he lost after five years at Ferrari.
"I don’t have any regrets because I'm happy now," the Spaniard told reporters after his team's dismal start to the Formula One season and new partnership with Honda showed no let-up in Saturday's Austrian Grand Prix qualifying.
"I'm enjoying the weekends, I'm enjoying my job and I need this motivation.
"I lost motivation last year. To be second or third for so many years with not really any progress...without motivation it is very difficult to work and I have all that back now," added the double champion.
Alonso has yet to score a point in seven races this season and McLaren, in a new partnership with Honda, plumbed new depths on Saturday when he and Jenson Button picked up 25-place grid penalties.
At Ferrari, Alonso won races and ended up second in the championship in three seasons but the title was always out of reach.
The Spaniard said he was sad not to be fighting for the podium but progress was being made.
"I see the Q3 (final phase of qualifying) normally on television unfortunately now," he added, expressing mock sympathy for those who filled the top places.
"I saw the top three in the press conference and they were very sad," he smiled. "They were angry. One because he spun in turn one, one because he spun in the last corner and the other because he's third whatever the conditions.
"I was in that position for five years," he said of Sebastian Vettel, third for Ferrari behind the dominant Mercedes duo of champion Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
"So I am enjoying the challenge of being in this project from zero, the very bottom because we are not very competitive, but if we can achieve something important together this will be fantastic and taste better."
McLaren's Racing Director Eric Boullier expected more penalties in the coming races as McLaren and Honda wrestled with reliability.
"I'm pretty sure we're going to have a new record in the Guinness book by the end of the season," said the Frenchman who felt the rules limiting engine development and usage needed to change.
"We have to respect the rules but I find it sad for Formula One to have two world champions like Jenson and Fernando sitting at the back of the grid."
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)