I make no secret of my affinity for Fernando Alonso. I have liked this driver from the moment he came into the sport with Minardi. I have watched every race since that introduction. I have been there for the highs and the lows and now I patiently wait, as do all of his other worldwide fans, for drivers’ title number three and who knows, maybe even number four. Such is the mindset (some say delusion) of a hardcore F1 fan.
By default, since I am such a hardcore fan of Alonso I must now also be a fan of McLaren and last year, whether you like the driver or the team, it was hard to watch. Let me rephrase that, it was painfully hard to watch.
So it is no surprise that Eric Boullier is referring to last year’s campaign as “humbling”. I could not agree more. I wrote a post recently about Ron Dennis and one of the facts I came across was that previous to 2015 McLaren has not finished lower than fifth in the championship for quite some time and by that I mean I went back ten plus years and commonly the team from Woking was runner up when not outright champion.
It would appear “humbling” is a very accurate way to describe what the whole team, including the drivers Jenson Button and Alonso, not to mention the famous organization top man Ron Dennis, experienced. There is nothing more humbling than being dead last or almost dead last in any sport pursuit especially when it is on the world stage and as critically reported as F1. Look, Alonso was pushing his car to the pit entry and if that is not a bit humiliating I don’t know else could be.
I have only an inkling of what the team has gone through (my pain as a fan increased ten-fold most likely) but I can surmise the galvanizing effect a year like that can have on all concerned. There are some very proud people in that organization. It is one thing to be a back marker year in and year out, your goals become smaller and more realistic. But to be one of the winningest constructors in F1 and finish pretty near dead last I can only hope the silver lining is that McLaren’s resolve is now ten-fold what it was at the beginning of last season.
While I don’t want McLaren to lose any valuable time in the preparations for this season, the first test could not come soon enough for me. I will be looking at the time sheets with a microscope and straight away we should know if the all-important two-second a lap goal has been achieved per Alonso’s prediction. We should also know fairly quickly if the real Achilles’ heel of Honda’s PU and other important components, reliability, has been put to rest. The reliability issues plagued the team right up to end of the season.
From ESPN F1, Boullier says:
“In some way the bad will be good for McLaren because it brought humility, and strangely maybe, the atmosphere in the company was quite good. I’m not saying people were excited by the results, everybody was frustrated, but the atmosphere, the commitment of the people, the understanding, were huge.”
He goes on to say:
Asked why the atmosphere remained so good in the face of adversity, Boullier replied: “Either the system explodes, or everybody regroups. I guess there was a sense within McLaren to regroup.
I hope, I really and truly hope so….