If McLaren fails to win either of the upcoming Grand Prix in Russia and America it will set a new record for the longest gap between race wins in the team’s Formula 1 history.
The British team will equal the current largest gap between its race victories, a sequence of 53 races held between the 1977 Japanese Grand Prix and the 1981 British Grand Prix, if it does not win this weekend’s race in Sochi.
The last time a McLaren driver scored a victory was with Jenson Button at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix in 2012 and none of its drivers have stood on the podium since Kevin Magnussen at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix.
The Danish driver finished third on the road but was promoted to second when Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was disqualified, which also elevated the second McLaren of Button to third.
So far in 2015, the first season since it reunited with engine supplier, Honda, McLaren has endured its worst season since 1980, when it finished in ninth place in the constructors’ championship, the same position the team currently occupies this year.
Fernando Alonso, who joined the team at the start of the season, has explained that he is not expecting Honda to make any progress with its engines, which will hamper McLaren’s hopes of a positive result before the end of the season.
He said: “It is going to be difficult to see big progress [as] the limitations we have now are quite clear, and this requires a bit of time over the winter to make most of the progress.
“But we are still using these remaining races for some set-up directions for next year, some aerodynamic improvements which might come to some races, and some more power unit experience.”
But McLaren team boss, Ron Dennis, insists that Honda is committed to its F1 engine project after high-level discussions took place during the Japanese Grand Prix weekend and the week leading up to the event.
He said: “I think the period I spent [in Tokyo] was extremely constructive and there have been discussions which are extremely constructive.
“The way that you build relationships and achieve things together is by coming together and not going apart, and being transparent, and working together to solve the issues. I cannot see anything positive coming out of public criticisms.”
“Every level of Honda knows the challenge of F1, and knows exactly where we are.”
McLaren’s problems with its Honda power unit are well known, but the team’s current slump began well before the Japanese manufacturer re-entered F1.
The 2013 season was the first time since 1980 that McLaren failed to score a podium finish, even though the team was running the same Mercedes V8 engine it had been using for a number of years when it was in contention for the world title. In 2014, the team used the Mercedes power units the German team used to win both world titles and Williams ran to multiple podium finishes throughout the year.
What do you make of McLaren’s recent form? Is it all down to the Honda power unit or did the team’s problems begin long before 2015? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.