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Renault star Fernando Alonso has hit back at renewed accusations that he does not work hard enough to exploit his supreme natural talent - and has blamed his team for starting the rumours in the first place.

The Spaniard is heading into this weekend's Australian Grand Prix as one of the pre-event favourites for victory, but the hype surrounding him has been dampened by quotes from former team-mate Jenson Button that he does not work hard enough.

Those comments have angered Alonso - who told journalists that he was particularly angry because he had been dogged with the label ever since there were suggestions put forward by Renault engineers in 2003 that he was not making the most of his machinery.

"This was not a very good comment from the team," said Alonso in Australia. "At one point in 2003, it was said in the press that I was not working hard. From that point, everybody thinks I don't work hard.

"I work much harder than any of the team-mates I had and my reputation is always that. But a few people were talking too much. The team can say many things about me but not, probably, that I was not working hard. I don't care what the team said, but this was not the truth and unfortunately people believed it."

Despite the anger over past events, however, Alonso is fully revved up for the season ahead.

"I arrive now with good expectations, with a good car and a good team. You can't make any mistakes because there are a lot of people working for this project,"he said.

"I prefer to arrive like this than to arrive in 2001 with Minardi, when the only goal was to finish the race and learn things. Now it is time to push the maximum. To take all you have inside and to enjoy the race."

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