No. 14 Fernando Alonso
No. 22 Jenson Button
First Race: 1966 Monaco Grand Prix
Grands Prix: 767
Pole Positions: 155
Fastest Laps: 152
Race Wins: 182
Constructors’ Championships: 8
2014 Championship Result: 5th (181 points)
For McLaren, 2015 is all about new beginnings. Since the departure of Lewis Hamilton at the end of the 2012 season, the team has struggled to fight at the front of the field, scoring just two podium finishes in the past two years. Widespread changes have been made, with Jenson Button entering 2014 with his fourth different teammate in as many seasons. This time around though, it isn’t a young driver full of potential, but instead the man many believe is the best pound-to-pound racer in F1: Fernando Alonso.
Alonso’s arrival isn’t the biggest news at Woking this year though. After 20 seasons with Mercedes as its engine supplier, McLaren has switched over to Honda power, reforging the famed partnership of the late ’80s and early ’90s. Button and Alonso have a big task to emulate Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, and the testing season has been a difficult one for the team due to problems with the new engine. However, when the MP4-30 gets going, the team could yet find its way back to the front of the field in 2014.
FERNANDO ALONSO No. 14
Returning to McLaren is something that Fernando Alonso would have thought unthinkable seven years ago. The Spaniard joined the British team off the back of his titles with Renault in 2007, only to fall out with the team, get entangled in an espionage scandal and ultimately lose both championships. He left with his tail between his legs at the end of the year. Apparently all is forgiven, but this could be Alonso’s last chance for a third championship. He is unquestionably one of the most talented drivers in the sport, but after being forced out of Ferrari, McLaren is the last team that can really offer him a title-winning package. It could turn out to be an inspired move.
JENSON BUTTON No. 22
We never knew whether 2014 would be a Formula 1 swansong for Jenson Button, and it was only in mid-December when McLaren confirmed he’d be back was the concern alleviated. Button has endured through several periods of F1 throughout his career dating to 2000, and the one he embarks on now is akin to a new development project with the Honda-powered McLaren MP4-30. Testing has been a struggle, but the consummate professional continues to press on and make the most of it regardless of the circumstances. Reliability will be the key point early, but by mid-year Button and McLaren could be in decent points contention.