Alonso happy with season despite team troubles

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SAO PAULO, Oct 22 (Reuters) Fernando Alonso played down his troubles with McLaren after finishing third in the Formula One title race and said he would have great memories of the 2007 season.

Despite missing out on a third successive world title and seeing his relationship with both his boss and team mate deteriorate to the point of silence, the Spaniard said it had been a positive season for him.

''The team did a fantastic job to have a competitive car in 2007 and so I was able to fight until the last race to win the world championship,'' Alonso told reporters yesterday.

''I finished one point behind the champion so in that aspect I think it has been a very positive season.

''Outside the car, for sure, we have had some difficulties this year but I think this is normal in all the jobs.

''You have ups and downs, better moments and then worse moments, and as I said I will have great memories of this year from my four victories I had in important places where I had not won before such as Monza.'' ''So, as I said, I will have great memories from this season.

Alonso arrived from Renault as the man to restore McLaren's fortunes after the Mercedes-powered team failed to win a race last year but found himself acting out an altogether different script.

Team mate Lewis Hamilton, a 22-year-old rookie, made it clear early on that the number two role was not for him and Alonso was denied the special treatment he thought he warranted as a double world champion.

By the end of the season, he was barely on speaking terms with either Hamilton or team boss Ron Dennis.

NOT HIGH Alonso went into yesterday's race at Interlagos four points behind championship leader Hamilton, three ahead of Raikkonen and fourth on the grid.

Although he passed Hamilton on the first lap, Alonso could not keep up with Raikkonen's Ferrari and finished third, while the Finn went on to win the race, ahead of fellow Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, and clinch the title.

''I knew it was difficult for me,'' said Alonso.

''My chances were not very high because I was hoping for a problem or something wrong in his race and I had to avoid a one and two for Ferrari.

''In the first two laps I was quite optimistic because I was running behind them quite easily and I thought maybe it was the pace of the race.

''But probably they were taking care of their tyres or whatever and when they pushed hard it was impossible for me to follow anymore.'' REUTERS RAR AS0913

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