27 years ago the foundations for a whole new path of Formula 1 were laid, McLaren parted ways with Stefan Johansson
, the MP4/3 and TAG-Porsche engines and replaced them with Honda and Ayrton Senna
. The team dominated winning in 15 of the 16 races, they were unbeatable and it was evidently clear the only thing that could stop them in 1989 was themselves. The sour relations between Alain and Ayrton left McLaren with friction, not helped by Honda's previous relationship and preferential treatment towards Senna. Alain scored more points over the season yet due to reliability in the 80's and some albeit strange ruling only the best 11 results counted which meant Ayrton was the champion.
The new year was a new engine and a deteriorating relationship, the car was again unbeatable but due to the fierce rivalry and competitiveness of the two drivers the title was decided again in Japan. The pair collided at the final chicane and Prost was out of the Grand Prix, Senna however recovered and went on to take the race and championship again. Hours later after a stewards enquiry which was triggered by Prost, Senna was disqualified and handed the title to Prost who would be Ferrari
bound for 1990.
Despite Prost's move for the 1990 season they were the two who contested the championship at Japan and again they collided, this time at turn 1. For the second year in succession they were both out of the race however this time Senna was ahead on points pre-race and was then champion, and this year he wasn't disqualified post-race. 1991 was also a dominant season as Ferrari and Prost were uncompetitive, McLaren again scooped both titles.
When Williams Renault
took both titles in 1992, despite winning races, McLaren and Honda parted company when Honda announced they were withdrawing from the sport.
This was it for the pair until 2015 when the former champions were reunited. Many things have changed since the dominant 80s/90s, the only similarity is that they have two fantastic world champions at the wheel in Button and Alonso. The slow and unreliable Honda engines have led to a sore relationship, Honda saying they are level with Ferrari, then Renault on power only to be well down on pace and McLaren saying that they have a winning chassis should Mercedes
be still supplying engines. The implication from Tokyo is that McLaren have a poor car and that the engine is not as far off the pace as the team claim.
So will 2016 yield a power upgrade and as Alonso believes a championship challenge or will it be more frustration from both team and engines... Only time will tell.