Hasegawa Reflects on “Emotional” Final Race for McLaren Honda collaboration

by Ryan Ashenhurst

The McLaren Honda Formula One Team is no more following the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in which the team secured its third consecutive points finish with Fernando Alonso securing ninth place. The head of the Honda side of the partnership, Yusuke Hasegawa, has expressed pride for Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, but has conceded that the last three years have been very challenging.

Regarding the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Hasegawa said, “Today’s final race as McLaren Honda was emotional for all the team,  but it was also a good result on track with both cars taking the chequered flag, and Fernando scoring some more championship points.

“After making a good start, Fernando kept chasing down Williams’ Felipe Massa and he succeeded to overtake into ninth, utilising the team’s great pit-stop strategy. Stoffel also pushed very hard and finished a strong twelfth despite suffering early damage to his car. Overall, I am proud of both drivers for showing their best performance without giving up at
any point during this tough season.”

Alonso’s two points weren’t enough to catch the Haas F1 Team for 8th in the Constructors standings, and what had been dubbed as the revival of an iconic partnership in Formula 1 has ended in relative mediocrity. Though Hasegawa literates that the hard work and dedication of the drivers, fans and team personnel throughout the three years has been outstanding, regardless of the setbacks the outfit has experienced.

“The last three years have been extremely challenging, but I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the McLaren Honda drivers and team members for all of their relentless hard work. And, of course, to all our fans who have kept us going with their incredible support.  Finally, we wish McLaren every success with their new partner.”

Even the greatest McLaren Honda cynic would have to acknowledge the slight improvements on-track towards the end of this season. With three consecutive points finishes for Alonso, Honda have something to hold onto when the work starts on their 2018 venture with Scuderia Toro Rosso.

2018 is arguably Honda’s most important year since their return in 2015 given that a partnership with Toro Rosso that yields better results would likely convince Red Bull Racing to run the Japanese power unit from 2019, as they look to find another supplier too.

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