The bigger the expectations, the harder
falling short of them is – and few
combinations in Formula 1 have been
more widely touted than McLaren and
Honda. But if their renewed partnership
was always likely to disappoint its most
optimistic supporters, few would have
predicted its painfully slow progress.
“It was a tough day – embarrassing
really, driving around at the back,” said
Jenson Button after a problem-plagued
Belgian GP for himself and McLaren
teammate Fernando Alonso (ABOVE) –
more so considering Honda had cashed in
precious upgrade tokens and rolled out
an upgraded power unit for that race.
Honda insists it’s making steady gains toward the front in F1, but is it?
MINDING THE GAP
“We have to make sure we improve the
engine and the car for next year,” Alonso
noted. “If in the remaining races we have
to take penalties, but the performance is
increasing, it is very welcome.”
“If” and “but” loom large in that
statement. Yet Honda motorsport boss
Yasuhisa Arai – who admitted Honda has
struggled to fit its power unit within the
compact dimensions of McLaren’s
MP4/30 – matched, if not raised, those
expectations. “I want to be close to the top
teams by the end of the season,” he said.
However you define “close to the top
teams,” it would seem to be a long way
away from McLaren’s current form.
Lotus took a desperately needed podium finish
with Romain Grosjean in Belgium. It might be
one of its last hurrahs under that name, as
another stint as Renault’s works team seemed
in prospect for the men of Enstone.
Alonso might be at the peak of his career,
but the McLaren-Honda package has
prevented him from showing it. Can their
partnership make up for a wasted season?