There's light at the end of the tunnel for McLaren
Whisper it, but it looks as if McLaren might be packing up at Interlagos in a couple of weeks' time without having scored a single 2013 podium finish.
There, it's out. McLaren's season could be without silverware for the first time since 1980. For a team who have come to be regarded as a pillar of F1, this is a barely imaginable state of affairs. If it's troubling for McLaren's fans and dispiriting for the F1 media who've grown used to compelling narratives being supplied by Woking's finest, imagine if you will the anguish being experienced by the proud crew who sally forth each fortnight still programmed to win, while knowing their MP4-28 sadly won't deliver the necessary.
What to do?
Well, F1 Racing is pleased to report that McLaren have plans. Honda, we know, will be McLaren's engine partner from 2015 and we all remember what happened the last time these two got friendly. Then there's 'Mission Alonso'. Dismissed by some as mere paddock tittle-tattle, don't doubt that re-hiring F1's feistiest operator is high on McLaren's agenda, despite his last spin in silver ending so acrimoniously. In the meantime, an aggressive technical hiring programme is under way, the attention-grabbing poach of Adrian Newey's right-hand man at Red Bull, Peter Prodromou, being the most headline-worthy. There's also talk of the announcement of Samsung as a title sponsor any day soon. All told then, the future is far from gloomy, even if the fog of underperformance has yet to lift, as you can read in our exclusive McLaren insight starting on page 41.
A degree of certainty as to the future is something that would be welcomed by Paul Di Resta, who we profile on page 58. He's one of a number of drivers whose F1 career paths were unclear as this issue went to press. After a fleet and single-stopping drive to sixth in Abu Dhabi, Di Resta told us his "focus was on staying in Formula 1". Mid-grid musical chairs be damned: he's worth his seat and it would be a considerable indictment of the sport's volatile financial straits were Paul to find himself out of a drive for want of a backer.
Cashflow woes are, however, a daily concern for the likes of Force India, Lotus and Sauber, to the extent that commercial pressures dictate their modus operandi to an extreme degree. The pantomime surrounding non-payment of some $16m apparently due to Kimi Raikkoenen, for example, would be surreally entertaining were it not sure indication that Lotus are a team whose balance sheet is in very real danger of rupturing.
Perhaps it's time for some of those who feature in our F1 Power List (page 73) to take stock of a state of affairs wherein only four of F1's 11 teams are financially secure, and take action for the common good. As McLaren's team principal Martin Whitmarsh noted in Abu Dhabi: "It tends to take a crisis for us to act together for the good of F1. It might be nice if we could do that for once before a crisis occurs, rather than afterwards."