As this article gets written on this sunny Friday afternoon, McLaren have blown an engine in the final day of testing, and have logged zero laps. Meanwhile, the Toro Rosso Honda is currently third in the time sheets, and while timings don't matter a lot in testing, they have also almost always logged over 100 laps each day. Clearly - painfully - something isn't right at Woking.
McLaren's 2017 season was well-documented. We all heard the horrors that the team faced, and how they 'deserved to be at the top'. Honda got all of the blame for McLaren's woeful performances, because they were just such an easy scapegoat to use. After all, Honda joined the power unit game a year late into the V6 hybrid era, and they rejoined after a notable few years out of the sport altogether, unlike the existing Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari manufacturers.
Unsurprisingly in September 2017, McLaren made an official announcement that they would be breaking away from their partnership with Honda in 2018, and begin a new one with Renault. In this switch, Toro Rosso would be the team to get the jinx supposedly, with the Italian team now having to deal with Honda.
So if you haven't really been following the testing sessions that much for 2018, it would be a safe assumption that McLaren would now be performing as a mid-to-high tier team, and Toro Rosso would be rock bottom, right?
Ever since the very start of testing, McLaren have been plagued with issues that no other team has faced to such an extent. We're not just talking about engine problems here; on the first day, a wheel fell of McLaren's wagon. Literally.
The rest of testing followed with really amateur mistakes from the historical team, including (but not limited to) a faulty exhaust clip melting the insides of the car, and the jack man dropping the car in the middle of a pit stop.
It's really starting to raise questions within the community of the sport: were McLaren just using Honda to hide their own shortcomings? They can't put full blame on Renault now, after all. Despite being a bit unreliable towards the end of last year, the Red Bull and Renault works team are coping just fine in testing, often with better pace than McLaren.
Changing engine suppliers inevitably means there's going to be a few teething problems, since the different power units all work and are all shaped differently from one another. With Melbourne just a couple of weeks away now, though, not even the new stunning livery will be likely to save McLaren now.
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