McLaren rekindles its iconic partnership with Honda in F1 next season, and today Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were announced as the team’s two 2015 drivers. After weeks of speculation over who would be racing alongside Alonso, the Woking-based outfit eventually opted for the experience of Button. The Brit’s 2014 team-mate Kevin Magnussen will remain at McLaren for 2015, but he has been demoted to the team’s test and reserve driver.
Alonso returns to McLaren for the first time since his short and rather turbulent stint in 2007. He announced at the final race of the 2014 season in Abu Dhabi that he would be leaving Ferrari after five seasons. The Spaniard said:
“I am joining this project with enormous enthusiasm and determination, knowing that it may require some time to achieve the results we are aiming for, which is no problem for me. Over the past year I have received several offers, some of them really tempting, given the current performance of some of the teams that showed interest. But, more than a year ago, McLaren-Honda contacted me and asked me to take part, in a very active way, in the return of their partnership – a partnership that dominated the Formula 1 scene for so long.
“McLaren-Honda’s repeated and open desire, perseverance and determination in making it possible for me to join their exciting renewed partnership, have been some of the main factors that made me take this decision, not forgetting the most important factor of all: we share a common objective and expectations, and there is a very solid future, with confidence, ahead.
“I will do everything in my power to deliver for everyone and for our team, based on a formula that has always worked for me: effort, sacrifice, perseverance and faith. We have time, we have hopes and we have the necessary resources. Let the legend return: that is our challenge.”
“I am extremely excited to be embarking on my 16th year in Formula 1 and my sixth season for McLaren. Like Fernando, I am certain that McLaren and Honda will achieve great things together, and I feel sure that, working together, all of us will pull incredibly hard to create a brilliantly effective winning team.
“Being a part of new-look McLaren-Honda is a wonderful opportunity for all of us, and I am very pleased to have been invited to do my bit. In fact, I am absolutely raring to go. Looking forward, I know the Honda guys well, having driven Formula 1 cars powered by their engines from 2003 to 2008.
“I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for them, and promise to give 100% to make their partnership with McLaren a success. Last but far from least, I am very much looking forward to having a driver as fast and as experienced as Fernando as my team-mate. I am sure we will work extremely well together.”
It is certainly a strong and very experienced driver line-up, which will help with the development of the 2015 car and new Honda V6 Turbo power-unit. It gives McLaren the oldest and most experienced driver pairing on the grid. However, the decision will come as a big blow to Magnussen, who showed impressive raw speed during his rookie F1 season.
He was and still is seen as McLaren’s long-term prospect. Remaining at the team will certainly help the Dane for the future, but he will have to watch out for McLaren young driver Stoffel Vandoorne, who finished runner-up in his first year racing in GP2, is rated highly within McLaren and will be also be looking at securing a race seat should Button or Alonso leave at the end of 2015.