Despite the Austrian Grand Prix being run on the longest day of the year, McLaren’s Sunday afternoon was over inside half an hour.
Having had a painful season with their new Honda power unit well off the pace and yet to show any reliability, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button reached their nadir yesterday as their year looks to be more of a bleak winter despite this race being run on the summer solstice.
Alonso’s race at the Red Bull Ring lasted two corners before a coming together with former Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen – with the Spaniard now having retired from the past four races.
Button, who has scored the team’s sole points finish this year back in Monaco, had a less spectacular retirement as his sick McLaren limped back to the pits at the end of lap eight.
The team had already been hit with a 50-place grid penalty before the race, 25 spots for each car, with time penalties also dished out.
It was Button’s second straight retirement and he admitted stopping early at least meant he would not feel the pain of being at the back of the field all afternoon.
“I don’t know what’s worse, really,” he told Sky Sports. “Doing the whole race 30 seconds behind the field or stopping.
“We hadn’t broken anything. The problem was something was wrong and it could have gone that way so they called me in, in the end.”
Having expected a difficult race on a track that would highlight the deficiencies, McLaren at least wanted to test new upgrades and parts – they were only fitted to Alonso’s car so no data was collected, with Button trying to remain positive.
“I was on the old kit anyway,” the 2009 world champion said. “Fernando had all the new stuff, which is obviously in the bin now. It has been a pretty bad weekend for all of us, but we won’t let it get us down.
“It is really tricky. We are asked difficult questions, but you have to be positive. If we don’t it will stay like this.”
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