Former McLaren protégé, Lewis Hamilton, has spoken recently of how difficult he finds it watching his former team struggle to be competitive since his departure to Mercedes at the end of the 2012 season.
The Woking team’s fortunes have plummeted. Since Jenson Button won the final race of the 2012 season in Brazil, McLaren have failed to make the top step of the podium. In 2013, the team failed to record a pole position, race win or even a top three finish and was their worst season in their six decades in Formula One.
The 2014 season opener in Melbourne brought some hope as Keving Magnussen took the chequered flag in third place – though he was upgraded a slot when Daniel Ricciardo P2 in the Red Bull was disqualified. Button was also promoted to third.
The first nine races of 2015 have afforded Ron Dennis’ team with little satisfaction and Lewis Hamilton reflects, “We all know it’s been difficult for them this year and it’s definitely hard for me to see that.
“It’s such a great team, such a huge team, that’s had such great success, and it’s a team that I was a part of for many years.
“It feels very abnormal to see them in the position they’re in right now.”
Despite their differences over contractual matters in 2012, Lewis is convinced that McLaren’s boss has the necessary experience and know how to turn their season around.
“You’ve got the great Ron Dennis there, a lot of great engineers, and a team spirit which eventually I believe will pull through,” Lewis states.
“It’s a dark place for them right now but hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Jenson Button, who was team-mate to Hamilton for three years, has maintained that it is important for the squad to retain a positive attitude because this will be the only route out of their current tribulations.
“We all fight to keep the smile – it’s a difficult position for all of us,” said the 2009 world champion.
“I have really crappy days, like all of us, and moments I’m not happy.
“There’s no point being down now, because that’s not going to help us improve.
“So it’s about giving good feedback and trying to make the most of every situation. Smiling’s better than frowning.”
Fernando Alonso shares Button’s sentiments: “It’s true the competitiveness we have now is not what we wanted or what we expect.
“We knew this is the first year [with Honda] and quite a difficult time, but I’m still optimistic and happy with the progress of the car.
“We need to fix some problems but we are definitely going in the right direction.
“With the current rules everything requires a bit of time because you are with tied hands for many things.”
It’s clear that Honda under estimated the magnitude of the technological task to build a new V6 Turbo Hybrid F1 engine. Even Renault whose engines was some way behind the Mercedes benchmark in 2014, suffered nothing like current pain opf Mclaren-Honda.
Ted Kravitz reported over the weekend, that his ‘sources in Japan’ had informed him Honda have continually refused to recruit F1 engine specialist from other manufacturers. This is apparently not the ‘Honda way’.
When asked last night about this cultural approach, Eric Boullier appeared furious. “We need to forget all this bullshit. This is Formula 1. This is racing.
“If you are in F1 it is to do F1 – whether you are African, English or Japanese.
“If you are in F1, you have to do things the F1 way and at the standard of F1. Nothing else.”
Ron Dennis by comparison appeared sanguine over the Honda relationship during the Silverstone weekend. However, Boulliers shot across the Japanese company’s bows demonstrates patience is wearing thin in Woking. Though a Renault-Red Bull public civil war of words is unlikely to be pending – because Ron Dennis refuses to budge from the line that Honda are McLaren’s only option – if they want to win titles in Formula One.