Two great names reunited
By McLaren’s high standards, the 2014 season was a disappointment as the British team failed to win a race for the second successive year. However, hopes of a return to their former title winning glory have been boosted by the recreation of a partnership with engine supplier Honda.
McLaren and Honda enjoyed huge success together at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost winning four successive drivers’ world championships. McLaren, who later switched to Mercedes power, have since struggled to replicate that success, with the team winning just three drivers’ world titles in the following 20 years.
After a miserable 2013 season with failed to yield a single podium, McLaren were closer to the front the following year, with 2009 world champion Jenson Button and rookie Kevin Magnussen managing two podiums. However, they still struggled for pace and ended the year fifth in the constructors’ championship.
The team re-signed Fernando Alonso for this season, but took a long time to decide as to whether they would retain Button or Magnussen alongside him. Eventually, they went with experience, with Button staying in the sport for a 16th successive season.
McLaren was founded by New Zealand driver Bruce McLaren in 1966 and won their first drivers and constructors’ world championships with Emerson Fittipaldi in 1974. In 1976 James Hunt gave the team their second title with the Drivers’ World Championship crown, but the team emerged as true Formula One aristocrats in the eighties under the management team headed by Ron Dennis. Since that time Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton have all claimed further titles for McLaren.
McLaren's relationship with Mercedes began in 1995 and grew to such an extent that the German carmaker was at one stage a leading shareholder in the company, which also built the SLR supercar for Mercedes. Over the past decade however this involvement has progressively reduced and ultimately came to an end at the end of 2013. Now McLaren begin a new chapter with Honda. With two world champions at the wheel, can they return to the winners’ circle?