MU MUCH MISTAKEN…
(not helped by McLaren’s insistence on inhibiting aero constraints) and never caught up. The result was that no matter how much McLaren improved the car – and they did – it never had enough power to get the job done.
So what are the chances of a better 2016? Considerable, I believe, and here’s why. Honda have lost face in a big way. Like Renault, they have spent vast amounts of money, which has been counterproductive. They’ve tarnished their image with technical misjudgement and racing failure and that hurts. Glowing memories of Keke Rosberg, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna winning race after race and title after title have been replaced by those of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button demeaningly struggling at the back of the grid.
So the midnight oil will be burning 24/7 in Japan this winter as Honda strive to put things right. But they have bright people, unrivalled research and development facilities, deep pockets, years of experience and determination. They’ve also had a year of learning to align their very different culture with that of McLaren. If you put all that together you can expect results.
My one reservation is that Honda are in it for the long haul, whereas McLaren need success now. Not just to be able to hold their heads up high again, but for commercial reasons, too. With the loss of sponsors Vodafone, TAG Heuer, Hugo Boss and, if rumours are to be believed, Johnnie Walker, the team’s finances must surely have been adversely affected.
Plus, of course, the fact that if McLaren and Honda make progress over the winter, their rivals will, too. But, whatever, I’m expecting a rejuvenated McLaren to grace the grids in 2016. They are one of the truly great teams of F1 and if Williams can revive their fortunes, as they so brilliantly have, then I like to think that McLaren can do so, too. Fingers crossed – I’d hate to see the superb talents of Fernando and Jenson being frustrated by inadequate machinery for yet another year.