It is fair to say that so far this season McLaren have struggled. Their rekindled engine partnership with Honda hasn’t flourished as we all hoped, and for a team with such a prestigious name in the sport, the budget, and with the history of McLaren, to not pick up a single point in their first four races for the first time in their history isn’t acceptable…
They have made a lot of changes over the off season, introducing new staff such as Peter Prodromou from Red Bull and of course with their world championship line-up of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, it would have been hoped they would be fighting for points.
The pressure is on now for McLaren as after the Bahrain Grand Prix, Alonso predicted that would be their last race finishing outside the points.
The approach to the Spanish Grand Prix is ideal for McLaren, as with the extended three-week break since the last raceit is perfect for them to make a big step forward.
McLaren have spoken publicly about making steps forward with their chassis, aerodynamics and engine power. With Alonso finishing in 11th in Bahrain and only four seconds off the points, their season is looking up already. If they can make a huge step forward as they have said, then Alonso’s prediction – “The next three races will be very interesting for us” – could come true, although reliability is probably the biggest issue for the team rather than the pace of the car, with Button only managing a few laps over the whole Bahrain weekend.
Not only is it a major weekend in terms of improving the performance and reliability of the car, but it is for Alonso personally. It is his home race. He last won the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, in 2013, which isn’t that long ago. But after a difficult 2014 and start to this season, he will be desperate to give his home fans something to cheer about.
With the season so far being so intriguing, if McLaren do make the huge step forward they hope then the battle for points could become even more competitive.
And for a team such as McLaren – with their strong driver line-up – you would hope it isn’t too long before we see them back at the front, winning races again.
♦ Richard Baxter is a member of the NRF1 Podcast crew. Follow Richard on Twitter @bax_kid