2019 has been a shot in the arm for McLaren, with the much-loved British squad finally moving forward… after four years of pain.
France was a sign of things to come, with both cars qualifying in the top-six for the first time since Italy 2014 before its second double points finish for the season. Sainz, in sixth, equalling his year’s best score.
Austria was more good news, only its second back-to-back double points finish, again since 2014… when it was last powered by Mercedes.
The intervening period has been absolutely brutal for the Woking squad, McLaren already on the ropes as it announced Honda’s return from 2015 - 2013’s car an aggressively designed flop.
SOUNDBITE: (English) MARTIN WHITMARSH,
FORMER TEAM PRINCIPAL, McLAREN:
"We want to recreate our past glories - and take McLaren Honda… back to the top."
But, the worst was yet to come, as Honda, after a year on the sidelines in development, struggled to match its rivals… in reliability and performance - trying to fit into McLaren’s restrictive mould.
Its best Honda car, the 2016 MP4-31 that was a regular Q3 feature in the season’s second half, with big hopes for the following season, before the Japanese switched to a Mercedes-style architecture.
SOUNDBITE (English): FERNANDO ALONSO,
2-TIME F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“Next year, hopefully for us, we can make the last step and fight for the championship.”
Its superstar, from 2015, Fernando Alonso who pulled the British squad up by its bootstraps, snatching 82 of the team’s 133 points or 61 per cent of the Honda haul before the once-iconic pairing’s messy divorce.
One that came with a significant financial hit… as McLaren joined forces with Renault, but an aero issue with the MCL33 made it very resistant to development throughout the season.
Painful memories that will be fading as the squad fires up the car for its home event at Silverstone… the British squad finally turning the corner.