Currently second-to-last in the constructor’s championship, 2017 has been another trying year for McLaren-Honda.
Despite possessing one of the largest budgets on the grid, the team has been able to garner only eleven points, with their competitiveness hamstrung mostly by the ongoing struggles of Honda’s engine development.
That said, their dearth of F1 results has done little to keep them out of the headlines, with stories such as Fernando Alonso’s Indy adventure, Jenson Button’s one-off return, endless speculation about the Honda partnership and Ron Dennis’ exit keeping them in the press.
Where they go in the second half of the season is anyone’s guess, but if the first half was any indication, they’ll be sure to bring the drama.
For all that has been made of Fernando Alonso’s mental state amidst McLaren’s struggles, the truth is it’s been Vandoorne that has been more adversely affected.
It can’t be forgotten that off the back of his 2015 GP2 championship and points in his 2016 one-off appearance, Vandoorne was arguably the most can’t-miss prospect of the decade. Instead, he’s struggled for both pace and consistency – albeit with a particularly high benchmark – and just seems to be going through the motions.
Scoring his first points of 2017 right before the break in Hungary, the hope is he’ll come back looking like the Vandoorne we expected.
Having celebrated his 36th birthday a week ago, it’s safe to say this was not how the Spaniard wanted to spend his F1 golden years.
Of course being Alonso there’s still been occasions where his brilliance has shone through – his P6 in Hungary being the most-recent example – but that matters little to the man who has been waiting ten years for his third championship, and 2017 is already another lost cause.
Still, there is no denying Alonso remains among the sport’s elite, and that’s particularly impressive considering the chaos that surrounds him.
You know it’s a bad year when a team’s highlight comes in an entirely different open-wheel category, but as far as McLaren’s 2017 F1 season has gone, it’s been an unqualified disaster.
Three years into their partnership with Honda, the expectation was they’d be competing for championships, instead they’ve topped-out at ninth in the standings, with a good weekend being one where they make it to Q3, or sustain just a single engine failure.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that recent results have indicated some progress has been made, but whether it’s enough to quell the tandem brewing storms over the future of both Fernando Alonso and Honda with the team remains unlikely.
Big Question: How do you rate McLaren’s 2017 season thus far?