Team: McLaren Honda
Car No.: 14
Best Finish: 5th (Hungary)
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 17th
Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)
If you would have told any discerning Formula 1 fan ten years ago that Fernando Alonso, newly-crowned world champion for the first time at the tender age of 24, would have just two titles to his name by 2015, you would most probably have been laughed out of the room.
And yet here we are, analysing the ashes of his worst season in F1 since he debuted with Minardi back in 2001 and trundled around at the back of the grid.
The failings of the revived McLaren Honda project are naturally at the root of Alonso’s woe, limiting him to just two points finishes in 2015. In truth, had the British and Hungarian Grands Prix not been as eventful as they were, there’s a good case for Alonso ending the year level on points with the Manors on a big fat zero.
Alonso has been said to have the heart of a lion, and that shone through even in the most troublesome of years. The Spaniard battled hard and vented his frustration, but still appears to have faith in the McLaren Honda project. Indeed, 2016 will be the true test of just how desperate Alonso is for that elusive third title.
And as for #PlacesAlonsoWouldRatherBe? The answer, at times, looked to be ‘anywhere but here’.
Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)
I’m struggling to think of a driver whose talent is so great and yet got his timing so terrible as Fernando Alonso. His first move to McLaren in 2007 should have brought a third straight World Championship, but the team made a mess of its chance with how things were handled. Then his return to Renault failed to bear fruit; his time at Ferrari coincided with a downturn in car performance and needing to make miracles happening.
And yet somehow, you wondered if Alonso’s luck could get worse. Courtesy of “McLaren Part 2: Alonso Returns,” the sequel was even worse than the original.
Signs were ominous from the off in preseason testing, when Alonso’s mysterious accident in Barcelona cost him the season opener. He never recovered, although so much of that was down to the car. Even Alonso – renowned as one of the best of his generation in exceeding the machinery at his disposal – couldn’t make things work, and the moments of frustration that did bubble to the surface publicly made it clear how trying a time it was.
Part of the problem with modern day F1, and particularly the current regulations that limit the amount of engine development you can make during a year, is that the car at a driver’s disposal sometimes hides driving talent. No one in their right mind would consider Alonso the 17th best driver on the grid but the results said he was this year. It was sad, painful, and brutal to see a two-time World Champion so far down the order… but we got #PlacesAlonsoWouldRatherBe out of it, so the year wasn’t a total loss.