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McLaren extends record winless streak as Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso struggle in Mexico

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McLaren extends record winless streak as Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso struggle in Mexico
Nov 2, 2015, 6:29 PM

"Crisis? Is that too strong a word?" asked Martin Brundle over the weekend in relation to Honda and McLaren's level of competitiveness and reliabil...

"Crisis? Is that too strong a word?" asked Martin Brundle over the weekend in relation to Honda and McLaren's level of competitiveness and reliability during the Mexico weekend, just three races from the end of the season.

While Mercedes set a new record for the most front row lockouts in a season with 13 and scored its 14th victory of the season, the Woking based team that was Mercedes' works outfit until the schism in 2009 slumped to a retirement for Fernando Alonso in the opening laps and 14th place for Jenson Button.

And Button, whose fastest race lap in Mexico was 2.5 secs slower than Mercedes and 2 secs faster than Manor, does not expect McLaren-Honda to win races next season, but does believe the partnership will be able to fight for the 2017 Formula 1 championship.

McLaren is now officially enduring the longest losing streak in its history and has not won a race since the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2012, a streak of 55 races.

The 2009 world champion described his run to 14th place in the Mexican Grand Prix as “painful” as McLaren’s struggles with straight-line speed were exacerbated at high altitude at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

XPB.cc Jenson Button

Speaking to Brazil’s Globo Esporte in Mexico, Button said: “Will we win races [in 2016]? I don’t think so, but I think we will fight for the podium.

“But I am feeling especially excited about 2017, when I think McLaren-Honda will be able to fight for the title. There are big changes coming for the regulations and Honda will be much more experienced by then.”

“The power unit we will have next year will be quite a lot different to what we have now. We will not have the problems generating power from the hybrid side, which everyone knows is our biggest issue.”

XPB.cc Jenson Button

McLaren’s ERS issues, where its Honda engine runs out of electrical hybrid power and subsequently has a lower top speed than its rivals, led to Button being passed numerous times on the Mexican track’s long straights, much to the British driver’s frustration.

Button said: "The straight-line speed that [other cars] have is just phenomenal. We're still doing 345kph on the straight but they're 20kph quicker than us so when they have DRS and they have full deployment they're pulling 45kph quicker than us.

"It's a massive difference in speed and I couldn't hold people behind me even if I was in front of them - not that I was very often, unless they were pitting or lapping me."

Button had also been forced to start from the back of the field after racking up another 70 places worth of grid penalties, as McLaren introduced more elements of the latest Honda engine to his car. But the 35-year-old could not even take part in qualifying as his power unit developed a misfire just before the session.

XPB.cc Fernando Alonso

Things were worse in Mexico for Button’s teammate, Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard qualified down in 16th place, but retired from the race after just one lap with an MGU-H problem the team had discovered on Saturday night.

Alonso took the start out of respect for the fans that packed the grandstands in Mexico City, but explained that he just wanted to forget about the race, and the US Grand Prix last weekend, as quickly as possible.

He said: ““There was no time to replace [the MGU-H] anymore, so the possibilities were not starting the race, or trying to do as much as we could – knowing that maybe one lap was the maximum.

“For the respect of the fans we tried to race, and the first lap it was enjoyable, at least the first three corners.

“It’s a shame, one of the best races of the year and we could not even nearly participate. I will go the airport, and try and forget this race as quick as I can.”

XPB.cc Eric Boullier Yasuhisa Arai

Despite McLaren’s woes in Mexico, Honda’s motorsport boss, Yasuhisa Arai said his company was still open to supplying Red Bull with engines in 2016.

He said: "We have been approached by the team [Red Bull], but discussions are on-going and nothing has been decided.

"I always say this season: we are always open, so we are in discussions that are on-going - that's it."

But McLaren’s racing director, Eric Boullier, made it clear that the team would not accept Honda providing engines to Red Bull and followed comments from Bernie Ecclestone at the US Grand Prix that claimed McLaren chairman, Ron Dennis, had already vetoed the idea.

Boullier said: “This is not a question of Ron saying 'no' and Arai-san saying 'yes'. There is no debate on this.

"Clearly there is an issue inside Red Bull, created by Red Bull and not by anybody else, and we are not a charity foundation, so we are not here to help.

"But we are not going into this kind of debate. Today there are discussions, but the position of McLaren-Honda has been made clear."

XPB.cc Fernando Alonso

What have you made of McLaren-Honda’s struggles in 2015? Do you expect them to fight for wins next season? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
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Series Formula 1
Drivers Fernando Alonso Shop Now
Teams McLaren Shop Now