May 5 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Rumours McLaren may appear with a radical new livery this weekend in Barcelona are wide of the mark.
Earlier, reports emerged that the British team – already criticised in 2015 for not adopting an all-new look for its new works Honda era – would race in Spain this weekend with more grey and less Mercedes-like silver.
But an official McLaren ‘tweet’ then triggered a new wave of speculation.
On Monday, the team published a poster including the words ‘A legend returns’, the date 7 May and an image of an iconic Ayrton Senna-piloted red and white McLaren alongside Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.
The small print even suggested Tag Heuer is involved, sparking suggestions McLaren may finally be unveiling a title sponsor and a return to its iconic livery of the 80s.
Actually, the ‘poster’ was referring merely to a Tag Heuer event taking place in Barcelona on Thursday, where the late Senna will appear as a hologram.
The social media-powered misunderstanding is undoubtedly the result of McLaren-Honda having not yet met expectations in 2015.
“They had some great years after I left,” said the team’s 1998 and 1999 title winner Mika Hakkinen, “but now they have a problem and they know it.
“But they are also working on solutions,” Hakkinen told Spain’s El Mundo, “because they have such good people but it takes time — and in today’s world people do not want to wait, they want it now.”
According to the Marca daily, the Finn continued: “The question now is how long it will take them and I don’t know — I don’t want to imagine.
“But it can be very frustrating for not only the team and the drivers but also the sponsors,” Hakkinen added.
Asked if he thinks Alonso – arguably the best driver in F1 today – will now be regretting his move away from Ferrari, Hakkinen said: “It would not be right for me to answer, as what is done is done.”
He told the AS daily: “It’s like when you go out and it starts to rain and it would have been better if you had brought an umbrella. You just have to go forward.
“But what is true is that Fernando helped enormously in terms of where Ferrari is now.
“The important thing is whether Alonso has the nerve to continue at the level he is. I don’t want to get into political or management issues, but as a champion, if I was in his situation, it would be hard to stay motivated,” Hakkinen acknowledged.