Zero wins. Zero podiums. Zero hope. Thanks to an engine as underpowered as it was unreliable, the final year of the McLaren-Honda experiment was an unmitigated disaster.
After a brutal first season back with Honda in 2015, 2016 had shown marked improvement in the fortunes of McLaren – alas, 2017 turned out to be more like the former than the latter. Racking up the engine failures in a fashion that would be comical if it weren’t so sad, the once-great team couldn’t even muster half of last year’s points total. Whether McLaren had a chassis to compete for wins or not (and it certainly looked the part at high-downforce circuits like Monaco and Hungary), it was clear Honda’s development programme was fundamentally broken, and it came as no surprise when their divorce was announced at the Singapore Grand Prix in September. For 2018, the Woking outfit moves to a Renault supply and the hope that finally, their nightmare run is over.
Undoubtedly still one of the best drivers in the sport, 2017 was a year in which Alonso was afforded few chances to show it. Sapped of any motivation amidst Honda’s struggles, the Spaniard still managed to impress by closing the season with three-straight top-ten finishes, showing his trademark ability to extract the most out of every car. Unfortunately, it doesn’t count for much when he’s still as far away from championship contention as he was three years ago. If all goes well, the Renault deal will breath new life into his fading F1 championship aspirations – otherwise at 36-going-on-37, he might start having to look elsewhere.
His first full season in the sport, much of the promise the Belgian possessed seemed to be quickly curtailed by his car’s shortcomings. Even compared to his teammate Vandoorne seemed miserable, and while it was always going to be a tough ask, it would have been nice to see him match up more favourably with Alonso. Still, the 25-year-old had his moments – chiefly two consecutive P7s in Singapore and Malaysia – but you’d like to see more in 2018 from a driver purported to be the future of one of F1’s most storied franchises.
2017 WCC Position: 9th – 30 points
2016 WCC Position: 6th – 76 points
Best Finish: 6th (Fernando Alonso, Hungary)
Average Finish: 11.48
DNFs: 13 (+ 2 DNS)
Q3 Appearances: 14
Engine Related Grid Penalties: 393
Qualy Pace Difference
Big Question: How would you rate McLaren-Honda this past season?