After wowing everyone with his mighty display in the Indianapolis 500, Fernando Alonso returns to Formula One this weekend, but he might wish he’d stayed with Indycar.
The two-time champion’s McLaren-Honda side are the only team yet to score a single point this season.
They looked like ending that drought last time out in Monaco, but Stoffel Vandoorne’s late crash ended any hopes of a point-scoring result.
But Jenson Button – Alonso’s deputy in the Principality – had taken the MCL32 into Q3, posting the ninth-best time in qualifying.
It confirmed all belief that the McLaren itself is a handy and competitive car. Alonso himself showed us its potential by qualifying seventh in Spain. It’s the Honda power unit which is destroying the team’s chances.
And that’s set to be painfully evident for the next three Grand Prix as Alonso makes his return.
First up is the Canadian event in Montreal.
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve boasts several long straights, and that requires some major horsepower.
That’s something Honda are woefully short of, and they could be in major trouble this weekend.
Alonso is a whopping 1,000/1 to win in Montreal.
That’s a four-figure price about a two-time champion, who has won this race before, driving for a team who have the joint-best record in the event with 13 victories.
Team-mate Vandoorne is 2000/1, and only Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson is a longer price.
The pain won’t end there either, with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku next up on June 25.
Another street circuit, the Baku layout again features several long straightaways where Honda’s struggles will be exposed.
And then comes the Austrian Grand Prix. The Red Bull Ring may be one of the shortest on the calendar at 2.6miles, but it boasts just eight corners, leaving much of the circuit in a straight line.
McLaren won’t get a reprieve until the aerodynamically-dependant British Grand Prix at Silverstone in six weeks’ time, and then again at the Hungarian event at the end of July.
But before that they’ll have to endure a trio of potentially brutal weekends.
And remember, this is the final year of Alonso’s contract. His patience will wear thin in the coming weeks, unless Honda can produce an irresistible reason to persuade him to stick around.
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