Fernando Alonso, the Spanish two-time champion and Formula 1 superstar faces an uphill battle again this season in the McLaren Honda after only managing to qualify in thirteenth position. Pre-season testing was plagued with problems from lap one with Honda getting through five engines in a mere eight days. Honda F1 boss Yusuke Hasegawa had high hopes that the newly re-designed Honda engine would be a strong competitor for the Mercedes 2016 power-unit but as a very frustrated Alonso said himself, the engine has “no power and no reliability”. He had a very impressive drive in the Australian Grand Prix last weekend but was forced to retire early from the race with suspension failure whilst he was valiantly fighting for a points finish.
Rumour has it that McLaren have approached Mercedes regarding a potential engine supply proving that they are having strong doubts about their future partnership with the Japanese manufacturer. With pressure mounting every day from their team and the drivers, the prospect of how easy it will be to take leave of their multi-year contract with Honda remains to be seen. Eric Boullier, McLaren racing director, admitted when questioned at the Australian Grand Prix that the team “are definitely not in the position that we were expecting to be and want to be”.
Surely this disappointment must be felt most acutely by such an acclaimed and prestigious driver as Fernando Alonso who will definitely not take lightly to finishing thirteenth again and whom will only accept a podium place. The fear for McLaren Honda now is whether or not they can manage to restore Alonso’s dwindling faith and belief in them. With a huge shadow now cast over him and his bleak future, he may be forced to consider his next move to save his career. Sadly, if these engine difficulties continue to blight McLaren Honda, the lights will surely go out on this once great team.