Things can only get better for McLaren

Fri Mar 11, 2016 6:58am EST
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One mechanics like to work with music blaring out of the garages but the anthemic 'Things Can Only Get Better' is probably too close to the bone to feature on any McLaren playlist.

How much better things will get, after the worst ever season for the sport's second most successful team, is one of the big questions ahead of the championship opener in Melbourne next week.

McLaren, winners of eight constructors' titles and 12 drivers' championships since their first in 1974, have not won a grand prix since 2012 and refrained at the launch of their new car from making any prediction about when the drought might end.

Last year, the first of an exclusive new partnership with Honda, they finished ninth of 10 teams and scored just 27 points from 19 races -- 16 fewer than world champions Mercedes scored on the opening weekend in Australia.

They also collected record grid penalties due to frequent engine failures.

In Belgium alone, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were handed drops of 105 places between them -- a meaningless but nonetheless eye-catching sanction on a grid made up of just 20 positions.

"I find it uncomfortable to watch these two great sportsmen struggling like that," former McLaren driver Martin Brundle said of the two champions who won their titles with other teams.

"It’s just painful isn‘t it? I can’t imagine what it’s like for them. They’re hard-wired to win championships and races. We all need that McLaren.   Continued...

McLaren Formula One driver Fernando Alonso drives to the pitlane during a testing session at Barcelona-Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, near Barcelona, Spain, March 3, 2016. REUTERS/Albert Gea