Fernando Alonso: 2016 my third-best season

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Fernando Alonso rates his 2016 season as the third best of his career and better than both years he won the Formula One world championship.

Though there was clear progress from McLaren and Honda in 2016, the team remained a long way off the front of the pack and could only finish sixth in the championship. Alonso was impressive throughout the year, finishing fifth in Monaco and the U.S. and out-scoring Jenson Button by 33 points despite sitting out the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Although he won his world championships in in 2005 and 2006, neither make Alonso's own list of best seasons, which is topped by 2012 -- the year he nearly beat Sebastian Vettel to the title in a less-competitive Ferrari -- and his winless 2014 campaign.

"2012 is probably my best season in Formula One," Alonso said when asked how he compared this year to previous campaigns. "Then it could be 2014 my second best. Then probably this one will be on the final step of the podium so far.

"I felt very confident in the car in every condition [in 2016]. Even the last 10 laps in Brazil I felt really competitive with 40-lap old tyres, things like that. That confidence in the car gave me the opportunity to drive at the limit on many occasions. I consider this year on a very high standard from my driving part of view."

Alonso used the comparison with Button, who will step away from F1 in 2017 and be replaced by Stoffel Vandoorne, to highlight his point further.

"Jenson is an incredible driver. Last year I experienced that and saw that and this year I was able to be in front of him many, many times. Even in qualifying we are 13-5, or something like that, but in three qualifying sessions I didn't participate because I had the penalty already with the engine and so I did only Q1. So that [difference] could be even higher than that."