Sunday, August 27, 2017

1 Racing Mind's 2017 Formula 1 Summer Break Report Card: McLaren Honda

Photo Credit: Zak Mauger/LAT Images

Team Grade: F

Driver Grades
Fernando Alonso: C (possible B- weighing Indy 500 effort on mark)
Stoffel Vandoorne: C-

The second oldest active Formula 1 team, McLaren has captured 182 grand prix victories and 8 constructor titles. Historic successes of the McLaren team are completely detached from the 2017 incarnation of the race team. Collecting only 11 points, McLaren Honda is enduring a year where their hybrid power unit’s development appeared to have taken a step backwards from 2016 and a obviously disgruntled veteran driver.

Team drivers Fernando Alonso and Steffel Vandoorne have both registered a non-start due to a mechanical problem. Alonso, a two-time Formula 1 World Champion, has vocally spoke out on the team’s poor performance this season. The widely-publicized choice to run the 2017 Indianapolis 500 instead of the Monaco Grand Prix with McLaren also spoke volumes on the Spaniard’s discontent after three seasons with the once top team. A native of Belgium, Vandoorne is contesting his first full Formula 1 season after debuting last season as a substitute for an injured Fernando Alonso for the Bahrain Grand Prix. At the beginning of the season, Stoffel Vandoorne’s performance on a race weekend sadly almost goes unmentioned lacking either speed or reliability. His efforts have shown improvements in recent races leading up to the summer break with a point-scoring finish of 10th coming at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Heading into the Belgian Grand Prix,

In late 2015, Red Bull Racing who was dissatisfied with their Renault power units was rumoured to have been in discussions with Honda but was apparently blocked into signing an agreement by McLaren. Instead of providing Honda with double the race cars to collect data, McLaren appears to have immersed themselves in development quicksand.

Thoughts of Team for Remainder of 2017:

If McLaren Honda finds some reliability in the final 9 races, the team can mainly focus on scoring points on the lower part of the top 10 grand prix results. A frustrating 2017 season has led to wild speculation relating to the McLaren operations for 2018. McLaren’s return to Mercedes-Benz power has been suggested since June. There’s also much uncertainty surrounding Fernando Alonso’s plans for next season whether his future will involve the team in Formula 1 or could possibly seek a longer visit to IndyCar. Vandoorne can take solace in the knowledge that McLaren Honda has confirmed his return for the 2018 season.

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