Team: McLaren Honda
Car No.: 14
Best Finish: 5th (Monaco, USA)
Fastest Laps: 1
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 10th
Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)
Fernando Alonso pulled his usual trick of far outstripping the capabilities of his car in 2016. The McLaren-Honda MP4-31 was not the pig that the 2015 runner was, but Alonso still should not have finished in the top 10 in the drivers’ championship with it. It wasn’t that good.
But, naturally, Alonso did it anyway. He dragged the car kicking and screaming up the grid, scoring points on a regular basis and taking the fight to the Mercedes-powered Force India and Williams teams. Given he started the year with a terrifying crash that forced him to miss a race through injury, his feats are all the more impressive.
Alonso’s finest hour came in Monaco when, in drying conditions, he was able to keep his McLaren ahead of Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg for the entire race en route to fifth place. It was a result that would have been unthinkable 12 months prior.
Alonso was a thorn in the side of the Williams and Force India drivers in their battle, picking up a set of P7 results in the second half of the year, and even finishing fifth in Austin after a late-race bump with Felipe Massa. The Spaniard’s aggressive style continues to delight us all.
Quite what 2017 holds for McLaren remains unclear, but you would imagine that if the car is even half-decent, Alonso will be able to work wonders with it.
Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)
The leap from 11 points and 17th place in the championship to 54 and 10th in one year spoke volumes about how much of a regulation badass Fernando Alonso is and continues to be. The Spaniard had no business finishing this high in points considering the McLaren Honda, while much better than the nightmare that was 2015, was still only sixth or seventh best chassis in the field.
Yet in nearly every instance, the two-time World Champion seized his chances when they were there and ultimately left no more than maybe five or six extra points on the table. Two fifth-place finishes, a sixth and four sevenths made for a good haul.
The hope is that with the new regulations next year, McLaren Honda can be even better. Alonso’s efforts and patience the last two years deserve a return to a podium and race-winning contender of a car. Maybe then, the #PlacesAlonsoWouldRatherBe meme will finally have run its course and Alonso’s place as one of this generation’s greatest drivers will finally come back into full view.