Mclaren Honda continued their resurgence to the top of the grid this weekend with both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button finishing in the points, finishing 6th and 10th respectively.
For the first time since his return to the team Alonso appears able to push the car with confidence:
“Fernando drove a brilliant race, displaying all the guile, aggression and opportunism for which he is so well known” commented Racing Director Eric Boullier
The team are confident the result could have been even more impressive. Fuel efficiency is still an issue for the Honda power unit, the Sochi circuit represents most challenging event for fuel consumption on the 2016 calendar. Yusuke Hasegawa Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer commenting:
“We knew that our longer stints were good here, but it was a job well done for our team and drivers to manage our one-stop strategy and fuel-saving during the race, which led to today’s results.
Eric Boullier went on to comment:
“We can see that we are the team that have a lot of fuel saving for obvious reasons, But with Fernando you could see towards the end of the race he was more than 1.2s faster [per lap]. without fuel saving we’d save another 50s which we would’ve had at the end of the race.”
Had Alonso been able to approach the race without a fuel saving mindset and chased the 50s Boullier refereed to he would have had the pace not only to pass Massa, but also challenge Bottas, elevating his finishing position to 5th, challenging 4th.
Considering challenges the team faced through the 2015 season, progress seen through 2016 to date has been deeply impressive. Honda have 14 development tokens available to them through the 2016 season, leaving the scope to make further advancements significant. Boullier has been keen to point out the Mclaren Racing and Honda are not the only factor contributing to the teams resurgence;
“This race showcases the collective efforts of the entire organisation – not just McLaren Racing and Honda, but also our key technical partner, Mobil 1, whose oil and lubes have played such a key role in our ongoing development. To our partners, too, their faith and belief is starting to be repaid”
Improved performances from the team could make them a formidable challenger by the end of the 2016 season and a genuine contender for 2017. A competitive Mclaren in 2017 could add further spice to ‘silly season’ with many driver contracts expiring at the end of this season.
Mclaren Honda now sit 7th in the Constructors Championship with all 3 of the teams drivers having scored points this season.