The 2017 season of Formula 1 went almost as quickly as it came, and, for me at least, it was a season of two halves. Before the summer break, the 2017 season was shaping up to become one of the classics; something I'd argue we haven't seen since 2012. We had two titans fighting for the title, using every ounce of strength in their bodies... that was until Ferrari faltered and Hamilton took advantage big time come autumn. Sigh.
But once again, there was absolutely no discussion regarding McLaren when it came to title contention talks.
Newer fans of the sport may not find any surprise in that, but if you've been following F1 from any time before 2013, you'd know it should be expected to find the Woking team at the top. But ever since the chassis cock-up of 2013 and the now-infamous Honda partnership from 2015 to today, the once mighty McLaren runs midfield at best.
All that could be set to change from the upcoming 2018 season, however. It's hardly breaking news anymore, but for the more casual fans out there who may not be aware, McLaren have broken their partnership with Honda, and have announced that Renault will be their engine supplier for 2018 onwards.
It raises an interesting question, because without the significant power deficit that McLaren have suffered with for the past three years, they will have no scapegoat to hide behind when the car fails to qualify into Q2. Naturally, the team have always put blame on the Honda engine when the pace was lacking, but was Honda really deserving of 100% of the blame?
Continuing the theme of bold claims by the team, Alonso was often heard saying in 2017 that his car had the best chassis of the entire grid. Of course, that's easy to say when you can't really square up to teams with over 100bhp more power. In 2018, if Alonso is really correct, then theoretically McLaren should be a serious threat to Red Bull, who also use Renault engines. If they have the best chassis, then the occasional race win on less power-demanding circuits shouldn't be out of the question. Whether that will be the case or not is yet to be seen, naturally.
I'm being carefully skeptical, but in truth, there are some small hints that they are telling the truth. Especially towards the end of the 2017 season, McLaren really seemed to nail down their aero and balance - to a point where they matched the top runners on some sectors on tracks where there are no straights. When racing with the midfield, the McLaren was visibly far quicker and nimbler round the twists and bends than the likes of Force Indias - wait, sorry, the 'FORCEs' - and Williams. It's important to remember, of course, that this doesn't translate to the 'best chassis of the grid'.
I suppose the only reason why I do sound slightly pessimistic of this whole situation is because McLaren is my personal team who I follow. The last thing I want to do is get over-hyped and then fall into a pit of disappointment... like I did in 2017.
Anything I can cross for 2018 has been crossed, but I'm going in expecting nothing. Anything over that will just be a beautiful bonus.