Car No.: 14
Best Finish: P6 (Hungary)
Fastest Laps: 0
Championship Position: 15th
Fernando Alonso’s 2017 Formula 1 campaign was the same old story we’ve grown accustomed to during his second stint at McLaren: a mix of frustration and exceeding expectations.
The writing was on the wall for McLaren and Honda in pre-season, with the Japanese manufacturer’s decision to redesign its power unit layout backfiring dramatically, denying the team both performance and reliability.
Retirements in the first two races were followed by a lonely run outside of the points in Bahrain, with Alonso retiring late on due to a claimed engine problem. The paddock generally believes the engine was totally fine; it was a statement from Alonso.
But the Bahrain weekend heralded arguably the biggest news of Alonso’s season: that he would be entering the Indianapolis 500. The difficulties with Honda meant McLaren was happy to appease the Spaniard, giving him the chance to put in a stunning debut display at the Brickyard where he led early on before retiring with – guess what – an engine failure.
Things began to pick up from then on. Honda did make great strides late in the season, while the strength of the McLaren MCL32 chassis was undeniable. In the Hungarian Grand Prix where engine power meant little, Alonso was able to win the midfield fight and finish a remarkable sixth.
McLaren rose towards the front of the midfield by the end of the season, but it was far too late to save the Honda partnership. The decision to switch to Renault power for 2018 did help ensure Alonso would stick around, though, as he signed a new multi-year contract.
Alonso proved yet again in 2017 he remains one of the most gifted racers to have graced F1 in modern times – but now over a decade has passed since his last title. Will the Renault switch for 2018 help deliver that elusive third crown? Or do the problems run deeper than just Honda?
Season High: Taking P6 in Hungary at the front of the midfield.
Season Low: Failing to even make the grid in Russia after an engine failure.