Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button both retired from the Malaysian GP, but McLaren chairman Ron Dennis says that nevertheless it was a positive weekend for the team and Honda.
Prior to stopping the drivers had at least demonstrated that the cars were closer to the pace of those ahead, and in addition they ran a respectable amount of laps in practice.
“Both drivers were extremely complimentary about high-speed cornering performance, and braking characteristics,” Dennis told this writer. “A whole range of positives came out of the weekend. I think we’re very strong in certain parts of the circuit. Clearly we aren’t where we want to be with the engine, and nor is Honda, but we are getting there.
“The retirement reasons were slightly related but not identical. The primary engines have not been damaged, because we stopped. They’ll be the engines for the next Grand Prix, albeit with some reliability components changed.”
Dennis has no regrets about committing to the Japanese manufacturer, and says it’s just a matter of time before things come together.
“We have a steep learning curve, and of course we want to win races, but we want to be on a path to World Championships. And to do that you need the complete support, and focussed support, of an OEM. Yes it’s challenging at the moment, but we’re working hard with Honda and we will get there sooner than people realise. It goes step by step. It will be Europe before we’ll have a pace we can measure.”
Regarding the return of Alonso he said: “It’s great, I think he’s done a great job all weekend, in every way.”