Fall from grace – Honda and Renault – will they turn things around ?

Jenson Button Hungary 2006

Teams do have their good years and their bad years. Seeing McLaren winning races and fighting for titles in 2007 and 2008 it is easy to forget that they haven’t won any titles since the days of Mika Hakkinen, haven’t won a single race in 2006 and finished distant 5th in constructors table in 2005.

The last 2 posts – the video preview of Hungarian GP where Button won in 2006 and Briatore’s engine cries – reminded me of the fall from grace of 2 other mighty teams – Renault and Honda.

Fernando Alonso Brazil 2006

2004
- BAR Honda 2nd, 11 podiums, 119 pts
- Renault 3rd, 5 podiums, 105 pts


2005
- Renault 1st, 18 podiums including 8 wins, 191 pts
- BAR Honda 6th, 38 points, 2 podiums (team was disqualified after one and excluded from 2 other races)

2006
- Renault 1st, 18 podiums including 8 wins, 206 pts
- Honda 4th, 3 podiums including 1 win, 86 pts

Renault won both drivers and constructors championships in 2006. Following their Hungarian win Honda’s performance went up and although they were not really able to fight for wins their consistency meant regular points for both drivers. Between Hungary and Brazil Button scored as many points as Michael Schumacher … One can say that back in 2006 Honda was kind of BMW Sauber of today.

And then came 2007
- Renault 3rd, 1 podium no wins 51 pts
- Honda 8th , no podiums 6 pts
(results after McLaren disqualification)

Season 2008 is not much better. Where did it all go so wrong for these 2 teams ?

Renault may still be paying the price for having to push hard till the end of the 2006 season to win both the titles. The departure of Michelin also hurt them and probably more than any other former Michelin running team. But still, a team should not go from winning both titles to scoring only 1 podium from season to season…

Honda’s fall was even worse. The team was clearly on a way up following their win in Hungary 2 years ago. But hiring a motorbike a guy for aero job on F1 car did not seem to pay off. Their RA107 was one sorry piece of machinery and often could not match even the RA106 disguised as Super Aguri. Only thanks to Button’s 5th place in wet Chinese GP did Honda manage to jump ahead of Super Aguri in constructors table … Changes have followed and new people including Ross Brawn have been brought in. For now however Honda’s performance is closer to Force India then to any of midfield teams. Their only hopes for success are unpredictable circumstances, like the crumbling Montreal track or wet Silverstone …

Will they turn things around ? Which team is more likely to do that ?

Photos: Renault/LAT, Honda Racing F1

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