Fernando Alonso feels his 2017 season so far has been "fantastic" despite the huge problems still faced by McLaren and Honda.
For the third year in a row Honda delivered McLaren an uncompetitive and unreliable power unit at the start of the year and recovery has been slow, leading to questions about the future of the partnership beyond 2018. Honda's most recent updates have shown progress and Fernando Alonso claimed the fastest lap at the Hungarian Grand Prix, where he finished sixth, helping McLaren move above Sauber into ninth position in the championship.
Alonso has impressed with his performance in his under-performing car this year, which also included his hugely popular appearance at the Indy 500. The Spaniard contested the famous oval race instead of the Monaco Grand Prix in a McLaren entry and he listed that as one of the reasons he is happy with how the season has gone for him so far.
"As a team we can't be happy with the season so far," Alonso said. "We were making it into Q3 normally last year, ninth/10th was our average position whereas this year we struggled a bit more.
"On the personal side, it has been a very, very good season for me. With the 2017 cars, I'm able to drive back again to my driving style, I feel much more competitive than the previous years, I'm feeling competitive out there on the track.
"I had the Indy 500 which was a nice experience, [his own personal] go-kart circuit is going great, fantastic. So fantastic first half of the season."
Alonso is pondering his future during August's summer break, though his options in Formula One appear limited to McLaren or Renault unless Sebastian Vettel makes a shock move to Mercedes. McLaren is determined to keep the two-time world champion for another year but he has previously said his decision will hinge on Honda's performance later this year.
Honda's F1 chief Yusuke Hasegawa says the Japanaese manufacturer cannot wait until 2018 to make a major breakthrough.
"Obviously this is a position we cannot be celebrating," he said. "We need to recover in the second half of the season."