(This informtion is pre-Austria changes)
Bringing up the rear. Not in contention. Struggling. Still developing. Having issues.
Use whatever metaphor you like, when you take Manor out of the frame, Mclaren is the car on the horizon. They are last.
The only Manufacturer Team to have a driver with ZERO points. The driver considered by many to be the foremost driver in the sport, who is behind his equally experience teammate. Is it the drivers fault?
Obviously not. And I would like to argue that Mclaren put them selves in quite a shitty position by having two top drivers in what is essentially a development car. The idea 2 top drivers will develop a car quicker might be arguable, but if the manufacturer can’t actually improve things, there is no use in paying drivers like that. We can now also see how Mclaren and Honda are taking all the heat for the lack of performance. They cannot use an inexperienced driver as an excuse. They are stuck taking the full brunt of responsibility.
So here is the news. Kevin Magnussen’s situation in Fernando’s car at race 1 is the same as Verstappen and Kvyat. The car never actually made it to the line, but because it was classified as a starter, Mclaren was allowed a free gearbox change at race two.
Alonso’s DNF in Malaysia gave him another free change to gearbox #3 in China.
Miracle of Miracles, Alonso finished the next two races in a row, China and Bahrain, so he kept gearbox 3 through Spain. Fernando did not finish Spain, but interestingly, Mclaren did not change his gearbox before Monaco, though they could have without penalty. After a DNF in Monaco, Fernando installed gearbox #4 in Canada. Fernando will finish the season using absolutely no less than 6 gearboxes.
Button Finished race 1, DNF’d in race 2, finished race 3, and never made it out of the pits at race 4. Interestingly Button too did not take a free gearbox change when given the opportunity to, though for him it was in China. I attribute Mclarens decision not to change gearboxes in these two situations as a way to reduce the variables associated with their Power Unit problems, and not due to a lack of funds; though you can’t help but keep that thought in filed waaaaay back there.
On a side note, Button failing to leave the pits in Bahrain, helps us further refine how the FIA classifies cars. So we have 3 unique situations:
1) Bottas- Driver Qualifies, but is not classified as a starter
2) Button- Driver Qualifies, is classified as a starter, but does not leave the pit
3) Kvyat- Driver Qualifies, is classified, leaves the pit, but does not make it to the start line
If you are Bottas, you did not participate in the race, and by the FIA’s measure with regard to gearboxes, you cannot change it without penalty.
If you are Button, you have actually participated in the event EXACTLY as Bottas did, yet your classification from the FIA allows you to change your gearbox “free of charge”. Kvyat made it half way through the formation lap, and is also considered to have participated in the race.
Back to Button, who installed gearbox #2 in Spain without penalty. and is currently still using it. Mclarens average for gearbox #1 was 1,146 Km, and for #2 was 1,147. That average will increase if Button continues to use this gearbox in Austria, but the numbers are never going to look good, and besides since neither Mclaren driver finished in Canada, assume both will replace their gearbox before this weekend in Austria.
Honda’s ICE is quite sad. ICE #1 for both cars was a complete throw away, Magnussen covering just 201 Km, and Button just 827 Km. ICE #2 faired better, averaging 1,535 Km between the two, but ICE #3 averaged just 1,360 Km, and it looks as though Mclaren will change out at least alonso’s car for ICE #5 in Austria. That means Alonso’s #4 ICE managed just 305 Km. We shall see which ICE Button ends up using in Austria. So far Mclaren has only announced that Alonso will change, but I have a sneaking suspicion that if Alonso’s car shows any signs of progress in practice, Button will get his ICE upgraded to #5 as well before the lights go out.
No matter what, both Alonso and Button will use at least 7 ICE’s each this season. The way things are going now, it could be more.
If you look at all the numbers, Honda and Renault are really not that far off on reliability. By that I mean both of them have none. What makes Mclaren’s situation worse than Renaults is that the Honda is unreliable and the slowest. Renault is merely unreliable and the second slowest.
I just looked at the clock and technically I made my self imposed deadline. My hope was to get all of these analyses done before Free Practice started on Friday, and I made it with an hour to spare. Of course by the time its published this will probably be wrong, but that is the fast paced world of F1.
I hope at least one of you found some of this even slightly helpful. In truth I learned quite a few things in doing the research, and I hope I was able to convey those to you.
Future write ups are planned as post race summaries, and will be published in the week following. Thanks to everyone for reading.