Fernando Alonso has admitted he will feel regret if his former team Ferrari wins this year's Formula 1 world title.
Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton believes Ferrari has "something up its sleeve" heading into the 2016 season, while Alonso is set for a second tough year with McLaren-Honda.
Asked if he would feel a twinge of regret should Ferrari be in a position to fight for the title this season, Alonso replied: "If they win the championship, probably, yes, because I had a contract last year and this year with them.
"So if they win the championship this year, probably, I will feel I could have had that opportunity as well if I was able to drive as good as the champion.
"That will be the case, but this is a big 'if'."
Honda has made improvements over the winter to its power unit, both in terms of deployment and reliability, which should be enough to propel McLaren further into the midfield battle.
"To finish second, fifth, seventh, 21st, is exactly the same pain because I am not winning," assessed Alonso.
"At least for last year, this year, I feel happy inside because I can see the commitment, and I see the project that one day we will win.
"If that day is in the short-term, medium-term, long-term, I don't know, but this partnership - McLaren-Honda - will win one day.
"We want to make that time as short as possible, and it's what we are working for.
"I understand from a fan's point of view, from the outside, it's easier to fight for fifth or fourth than to fight for Q1 positions, which seems quite sad.
"But from the inside it's the same frustration, or sometimes even more frustration, if we arrive fourth all the time."
Alonso missed last year's Australian GP following a crash during pre-season, and he is looking forward to starting the new season in Melbourne.
"I still get excited. It [Australia] is one of the best races of the year," he said.
"After a long break, with new cars and new regulations, there is the excitement of how they will be, and this adrenaline is probably the same as the past 15 years I've been here.
"I missed it last year, now it's good and I'm happy to be back."