McLaren’s miserable Melbourne start

McLaren-Honda had a rather woeful start to the 2015 Formula 1 season in Melbourne last weekend. With plenty of retirements throughout the race at Albert Park only 11 of the 20 cars managed to finish, McLaren’s Jenson Button taking up the rear, gaining no points for the team.

2009 world champion Button was the higher placed of the two MP4-30 cars, reserve driver Kevin Magnussen not even making it to the start of the race following an engine failure on the way to the grid.

It’s been a pretty difficult time for the new McLaren-Honda team, having rekindled their relationship this year after McLaren chose to sever their ties with Mercedes. It might prove to have been a massive mistake as Honda haven’t had the experience of last season to be able to improve on their hybrid engine. This year will be a huge learning curve for the team and it will pobably see them trailing near the back of the grid as a result.

Team principal Eric Boullier, who moved over from Lotus at the end of the 2013 season, has even admitted that it could take years for the team to get back up to standard and it seems that they are an incredibly long way off from the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

Already, prior to the start of the season, McLaren had a setback in the form of Fernando Alosno. It was big news when the Spaniard announced he was leaving Ferrari for the British team and McLaren-Honda clearly had some future hopes pinned on the double world champion.

It was a huge hold up for the team then when Alonso had a crash in testing, ruling him out of the Australian Grand Prix. The team still don’t seem to know the cause of the incident which surely can’t be helpful at the present time. As such they had to call on reserve driver Magnussen who they demoted at the end of last season in order to take on Alonso.

During qualifying the McLaren cars finished second from last, only to renewed team Manor Marussia who were unable to compete over the weekend due to apparent software issues. This meant they were knocked out of the first qualifying session, a staggering 1.5 seconds away from the time needed to make the next session.

It seems that the cars issues lie with the hybrid section of its engine and it is no surprise really considering that Honda have had so little time to fully develop and test new parts of the car. It is possible that over the coming months with new upgrades and experience McLaren-Honda could get some points but they aren’t going to be able to contend for anything major for a long while yet.

The team and drivers all seem confident about the cars potential for the future and in essence the only way from here must be up. Good news has already come in the form of Alonso’s comeback; he has been having a good experience with the simulator, preparing himself for Malaysia. 

The next race in Sepang, Malaysia takes place on 29 March where we will be able to gain more of an insight into the workings of the McLaren-Honda and decide whether there really is a feasible future in Formula 1 for the team.

What do you think of the McLaren? Have your say in the comments section below.