With the Baku Grand Prix weekend almost upon us, what chance that McLaren Honda's fortunes have changed and they pick up points on Sunday? If they do, it'll be the first of what has been a harrowing season for the British side.
The engine problems faced by McLaren this season, comical at times, has caused a major rift with Honda, to the point where team bosses are openly discussing their options for next year and beyond. This was supposed to be a multi-year deal that would wean McLaren off Mercedes and set them up as a title competitor. Honda, competitive when in F1 as a team during the noughties, and world leaders in engine manufacturing, were supposedly bought in to compete with Ferrari, Red Bull and pacesetters Mercedes. Instead, the team find themselves struggling alongside Haas and Sauber at the bottom of the midfield pack. Renault, Force India and Williams have all appeared superior so far this season.
Make no mistake, McLaren as an outfit are still a fantastic team. In Zak Brown, they have arguably the most forward thinking CEO in the sport, and they have two drivers in the form of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne that are more than capable of challenging for the podium, especially the former (alas Alonso is arguably the best driver on the grid still).
Their chassis is reportedly as good as any challenger on the grid this season, so it seems the problem exclusively lies with the engine. Regardless, Honda chief Yusuke Hasegawa seems certain that there will not be a "divorce" anytime soon:
"They are all still frustrated, and of course we are frustrated as well. So Zak's comments are very understandable.
"We are frustrated and we are disappointed, so it's no wonder if they comment about something like that.
"Of course good results will cheer the team up, but even in a difficult situation we have a very strong connection.
"We are frustrated, but feeling frustration in the race does not directly mean 'they want to divorce' nor 'ending the contract'.
"The frustration in the race and the decision making for the relationship are totally different matters."