The marriage between McLaren’s MP4-30 and Honda’s new V6 power unit was not a happy one, and even in the hands of former champions Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button it scored just 27 points. But Dennis says the team understand the problems - and how to rectify them.
“We know what we’ve got to do to turn things around, and, as I speak, we’re working night and day to do just that,” he told Formula1.com in an exclusive interview. “Put it this way: if you visit the McLaren Technology Centre on a Saturday or a Sunday this winter, you won’t find many free car parking spaces!”
Dennis insisted the fundamentals of McLaren’s 2015 car were correct, citing its stronger showings on slower circuits where engine power was less relevant. He also highlighted the cyclical nature of Formula One racing, which historically has shown that new pairings rarely find instant success.
“Our chassis is a very good one - all the data bears that out,” he stated. “Our driver line-up is the best in the sport - the stats prove that. Our partnership with Honda is a new one - or a freshly renewed one to be precise - and it’s not remotely surprising that it should be taking a little while to gel. That’s what Formula One is like, and it always has been.”
As proof of McLaren taking the right path, Dennis emphasised the speed shown by Alonso at the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, where over the last five laps the team switched his car’s settings to ‘full deployment’ in order to help ascertain its ultimate performance potential.
“The results were pretty encouraging,” Dennis said. “He carved his fastest lap on the 55-lap race’s 52nd tour - 1m 44.796s - and only two drivers bettered that all afternoon: Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
“So, if you’re only as good as your last race, as the saying goes, then all I can say is that we’re not too bad.”