F1 2015 Preview: McLaren

2014 Statistics

Constructors Championship: 5th
Wins: 0
Podiums: 2
Pole positions: 0
Points finishes: 26

Like 2013, 2014 was a season to forget for McLaren. The only shining light was that the team actually managed to get on the podium last season, although it was right at the start of the year. Kevin Magnussen had a dream start to his Formula One career and finished third in Australia. This was later promoted to second following Daniel Ricciardo’s exclusion due to a fuel flow rate infringement. This also meant that Jenson Button – who finished fourth – was promoted to third, giving he team two podiums. It was all downhill from there, however.

The team battled with Force India for fifth in the championship and eventually won through in the closing stages. Button finished fourth a few times but fighting for the podium was unrealistic and the team had to settle for mid to low points finishes. There was a turnaround towards the end of the season, however, and from Japan onwards the drivers reported much more confidence in the car and its driveability – a positive for the team to take into the new season.

Ahead of 2015 McLaren have acquired the talents of Adrian Newey’s former right hand man Peter Prodromou who previously worked with the team until 2006. They’ve also joined forces with Honda again and have signed up former driver Fernando Alonso.

2015 so far hasn’t seen McLaren get the best of starts. The team have suffered with reliability problems all through testing. At the third and final test in Barcelona they completed 101 laps on day two but the next day’s running was back to around 30 laps. On top of that they won’t have Alonso for the first race as he suffered a concussion following his crash at the second Barcelona test. After all the ‘um-ing and ah-ing’ at the end of last season over their driver line-up, McLaren have ended but running Button and Magnussen once again, with the latter stepping up in his role as reserve driver to sub for Alonso.

While reliability has been an issue for the team, they have revealed that they have met all their testing targets. Like at the Ferrari camp, initial views on the car from the drivers who drove for the team last year are good. Button has revealed the MP4-30 is much nicer to drive than its predecessor. Honda are still going through the phases that Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari (as engine manufacturers) experienced last year with a brand new engine. It is these reliability issues with the new engine that has hampered them so far however once they get on top of that, they are leaving big question marks about where they will feature in the championship.

Button is about to embark on his sixth season with the team. He faced an uncertain future at the end of last year when the team deliberated over who would partner Alonso. He performed well for the team last year in an under-performing car and finished eighth in the championship, just eight points behind Felipe Massa in the Williams. He will no doubt be pushed onwards by the return of Alonso.

Alonso is back at the team where he nearly won his third championship in 2007. Having become disillusioned with Ferrari, the Spaniard could not resist returning to McLaren when they reunited with Honda. He has not been shy about revealing that it has been his dream to drive for McLaren Honda and emulate his hero Ayrton Senna. It hasn’t been the best start to his return, however, with a testing crash putting him on the sidelines for Australia. He has returned to training and intends to be back for Malaysia.

McLaren have the most experienced line-up on the grid and with an impressive driver like Magnussen in the wings, they certainly have an exciting set-up. The right people are in the right places but it remains to be seen what they can achieve.

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