McLaren are on their worst run in F1 history. Their last win came at the Brazillian Grand Prix in 2012, some 57 races ago. On top of this, their last podium finish came at the Australian Grand Prix in 2014.
With the budget and racing experience at McLaren’s disposal, it comes as a surprise that they are in this predicament. Admittedly, the majority of their struggles in 2015 were due to Honda’s power unit. The last F1 engine Honda built was in 2008, before the advent of KERS, which may explain their inferior performance.
The current 1.6-litre hybrid turbo engine era is vastly different to their previous foray in F1, so to expect Honda to return in a blaze of glory was unrealistic.
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Is Ron Dennis the right man for the job?
Much of the criticism has been aimed towards team boss Ron Dennis, questioning whether he is capable turning things around for the Woking-based team.
According to Autosport, when asked whether he was fit for the job, Dennis said: “I feel I am extremely healthy, as far as I know. I look after myself, I don’t get ‘falling over’ tired.”
“Be under no illusion: I am as motivated and as focused as I’ve ever been, and I’m contributing to the future of McLaren, and that’s my objective.”
Dennis has experienced tremendous success in F1 with McLaren, thus their current situation may be foreign to him. With this being said, there is no doubt that Dennis’ will to succeed and previous track record warrants his role as boss.
Potential World Champions?
2015 was a bitter pill to swallow for drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. They are F1’s most experienced driver line-up with 536 race starts, 47 race wins and three drivers’ titles between them.
Alonso moved to McLaren in 2015 to undertake a project radically different to that of Mercedes. He is yet to build on his two world championships, the most recent of which was won in 2006.
The 34-year-old is at the stage of his career where he wants to be competing for world championships, something McLaren-Honda failed to deliver in 2015, and may fail to deliver in 2016.
Ironically, the last season in which Button had a truly uncompetitive car was 2008; the season Honda decided to quit F1.
At the end of 2013, Button’s F1 future was in jeopardy. He was adamant that if he were to stay in F1 it would have to be with a front-running team.
It is highly unlikely that McLaren-Honda will be capable of winning races in 2016, but stranger things have happened. Alonso and Button are at the point of no return, and the likelihood is that 2017 will be their next opportunity to win a championship.