As December ticked into January and 2015 became 2016, a sigh of relief exuded from those at McLaren and Honda, and especially drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.
The figures will show that last year was nothing short of a disaster for both McLaren and their returning Japanese engine partners.
Neither of their world champion drivers could finish higher than fifth last season as McLaren trailed home ninth in the Constructor’s Championship with 27 points; a humiliating 676 points behind champions Mercedes.
McLaren and Honda dominated the sport in the late 1980s and early 90s – claiming four successive driver’s and constructor’s titles – but last season they were a poor shadow of their former selves.
A repeat in 2016 is little short of unacceptable, and with both Alonso and Button’s determination wavering at various points last season, it’s unlikely they’ll accept such a performance for a second successive year.
Honda need to deliver, but they believe they know just what to do and how to do it.
Most of the team’s problems last year centered on the energy recovery aspect of the RA615H Hybrid power unit.
The rest of the unit is widely believed to be competitive, but the lack of an adept energy recovery system left Alonso and Button woefully slow in 2015, and was the major cause of their 2-2.5 second deficit to the leaders.
Both Honda and Alonso have made comments in the press stating their belief that they can make up that deficit, but according to the bookies they still have a way to go to match Mercedes, with Ladbrokes offering 7/1 on McLaren winning a race in 2016.
Last year’s McLaren chassis was reputed to be not far off those of Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari, and should Honda solve their issues, they could, and indeed should, be a much bigger force in forthcoming campaign.
But those who don’t fancy Honda to turn it around might want to take up the 3/1 on the tempestuous Alonso to leave the team before the end of the year.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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