The Russian Grand Prix was one of McLaren’s stronger showings in 2014, with both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen performing well on the new circuit. Whilst Button has been confirmed at the team for 2016, the troubles on the track continue, and are set to not get any better soon. However Honda have spent the remainder of their allocated engine tokens ahead of this race, but only one car will be running the all-new power unit, and will subsequently receive a grid penalty as a result.
2015 Russian Grand Prix McLaren Preview
No. 14 Fernando Alonso
2014: Grid: P7; Race: P6
Alonso was the highest-placed non-Mercedes-powered car last year at Russia in the race. After highly critical comments about Honda’s power unit went very much public at the last event, questions have been raised over Alonso’s relationship with McLaren, and McLaren’s relationship with Honda. However for this weekend it will only be Alonso’s car which will get the upgraded power unit so it will be worth watching his weekend to see what progress, if any, Honda are actually making. He has generally had the upper hand over Button lately, but it’s been very close in qualifying between the two.
No. 22 Jenson Button
2014: Grid: P4; Race: P4
Button did a super job here last year, qualifying and finishing fourth in a McLaren which suited the track pretty well. With no upgraded unit this weekend, he will almost certainly outqualify the already penalised Alonso but could well fall behind him in the race due to the inferior machinery. At least with the uncertainty surrounding his future put underneath the rug for at least another year, Button will be able to focus on the job at hand this weekend.