After weeks of rumours, the McLaren-Honda Team have finally announced their 2015 drivers line-up, with Fernando Alonso coming in to join Jenson Button, while Kevin Magnussen drops to the reserve driver role.
Alonso returns to the team he raced for in 2007, while Button retains his seat for a sixth season after joining the team for the 2010 season. Between the two drivers they have three World Drivers’ Championships and forty-seven race victories between them. They are also two of the most experienced drivers in the field, with Button having raced in 266 races and Alonso 235.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ron Dennis admitted that Alonso had been signed for a while, and it was decided to delay his announcement until the team had worked out who would be his team-mate.
“I am absolutely delighted to be on the threshold of leading McLaren-Honda to a new era of partnership, and I speak on behalf of all at McLaren when I say that,” insisted Dennis. “I am equally confident that our colleagues at Honda share that determination and passion to win.”
Dennis was happy to be able to sign two World Champion drivers for Honda’s first year back with the team, and he believes that Alonso and Button offer the team the strongest chances of having a good 2015 season.
“As regards drivers, McLaren’s policy has always been to assemble the strongest line-up possible, and in Fernando and Jenson I firmly believe that is exactly what we have,” said Dennis.
“We signed Fernando a little while ago, but we decided not to announce the fact until we had also re-signed Jenson as his team-mate. For many reasons our negotiations with Jenson took quite a long time, but, now that they have been concluded, we are confident that our collaboration with him will continue to thrive in the future every bit as well as it has in the past. Make no mistake about it, Jenson is 100% committed to McLaren-Honda, to Formula 1, and to winning.
“As a pair, he and Fernando are supremely experienced. Fernando has started 234 Grand Prix, has converted 32 of those starts to victories, has stood on a grand prix podium 97 times, and has won the drivers’ world championship not once but twice. He is a class act.
“He is 33 – which, for an athlete as physically fit as he is, constitutes a Formula 1 driver’s professional prime of life. Moreover, he is old enough to be experienced and expert, yet young enough to be enthusiastic and energetic. I therefore firmly believe he will deploy those four e’s – experience, expertise, enthusiasm and energy – to drive forward McLaren-Honda’s on-track success next season and for quite a few seasons to come.
“As for Jenson, at 34, he is every bit as fit as Fernando but even more experienced: he has started 266 Grand Prix, has won 15 of them, and has stood on a grand prix podium 50 times. He, too, is an ex-world champion, and is one of the smoothest and fastest guys out there.
“To sum up, Fernando and Jenson have started a combined total of precisely 500 Grand Prix between them – a mighty aggregate – and have won 47 of them.
“I can safely say, therefore, that we now have by an order of magnitude the best driver line-up of any current Formula 1 team.”
Despite the announcement of Alonso and Button as the drivers, Dennis still had high praise for Kevin Magnussen, who steps down to the role of reserve driver for 2015 after making his race debut in 2014, and believes the Danish driver still has a big future in the sport ahead of him.
“I want to thank and pay tribute to Kevin,” said Dennis. “[He] has done a great job this season and will continue to be an integral part of our team.
“He will be our test, reserve and third driver, and remains an excellent prospect for the future.”