Glory days

F1 Racing - - SEASON PREVIEW 2016 -

There’ll surely be some ner­vous nel­lies at McLaren as the cars roll out for first prac­tice at the F1 sea­son-opener at Al­bert Park. It is only then that the team will get a real idea as to what kind of progress Honda has made on the power unit front. It will be a tense mo­ment, be­cause in the wake of the ex­o­dus of swag of its spon­sors af­ter the disas­ter of last sea­son, McLaren surely can­not af­ford an­other un­com­pet­i­tive year.

But Ron Den­nis and his team can take some com­fort from the fact that, sta­tis­ti­cally, Aus­tralia has proven a happy hunt­ing ground for McLaren over a long pe­riod.

McLaren is the most suc­cess­ful mar­que in the 88-year his­tory of the event. The first of 12 AGP wins by McLarens was as long ago as 1970 (when Den­nis was still a me­chanic at the Brab­ham team) with a Repco-Holden pow­ered For­mula 5000 M10B driven by the late, great Frank Matich.

The next three McLaren vic­to­ries came af­ter the race’s 1985 el­e­va­tion to the World Driv­ers’ Cham­pi­onship, and all three of those cul­mi­nated in the fi­nal round at Ade­laide with world cham­pi­onship wins for McLaren driv­ers.

In 1986 Alain Prost scored a vic­tory that sealed a sur­prise world ti­tle (he’d only been an out­side math­e­mat­i­cal chance be­hind the two Wil­liams driv­ers, but they were both struck down by sep­a­rate tyre is­sues). Two years later Prost won again, but only as team-mate Ayr­ton Senna clinched the Driv­ers’ ti­tle (and McLaren bagged the Con­struc­tors’).

Then in ’91 Senna scored his first AGP win as he cel­e­brated his third world cham­pi­onship suc­cess, while McLaren took out its fourth suc­ces­sive Con­struc­tors’ ti­tle with en­gine part­ner Honda – us­ing three dif­fer­ent Honda en­gines: firstly the 1.5-litre V6 turbo, fol­lowed by the 3.5-litre nat­u­rally as­pi­rated V10 and V12.

The glo­ri­ous his­tory of McLaren and Honda to­gether in F1 has rarely shone as brightly as it has down un­der – might we see the flicker of the be­gin­ning of a new golden McLaren-Honda era at Al­bert Park this year?

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