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McLaren start new Honda era on back row of Formula One grid

McLaren's suffered a humiliating start to the Formula One season with a woeful Australian Grand Prix qualifying session that left both cars at the back of the grid.

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Updated:March 14, 2015, 1:53 PM IST
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McLaren start new Honda era on back row of Formula One grid
McLaren's suffered a humiliating start to the Formula One season with a woeful Australian Grand Prix qualifying session that left both cars at the back of the grid.

McLaren's worst fears were realised on Saturday when they suffered a humiliating start to the Formula One season with a woeful Australian Grand Prix qualifying session that left both cars at the back of the grid.

The sport's second most successful team in terms of race wins, McLaren endured one of their worst qualifying performances in decades and at the start of a new partnership with Honda.

Former champion Jenson Button, a three-time winner in Australia, will start 17th with team-mate Kevin Magnussen alongside.

The Dane, a stand-in for Spaniard Fernando Alonso, qualified last in a field of 18 after Manor Marussia failed to get their cars running.

"It's going to be a really difficult race for us," Button said. "We haven't done a race distance yet. We want to do the best we can."

"We're not going to be fighting for points," he added.

McLaren always knew 2015 would be difficult as they begin rebuilding for the future but few expected them to be the slowest team on the grid.

The return of Honda, who powered the team in some of their greatest years with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, may take McLaren back to the summit but that still looks a long way off.

Even with the dominant Mercedes engine last year, McLaren still failed to win a race.

"It was never going to be super-competitive here, it wasn't even going to be competitive but there's a good feeling about the car, even though we are so far off," Button said.

"The basic car is there and we've just got to build on it now...obviously there's a lot more to come."

The team suffered an unexpected setback in testing when Alonso, the double world champion signed from Ferrari, was told to miss Australia after a heavy crash.

He was replaced by Magnussen, who raced for McLaren last season and finished second in Australia after local hero Daniel Ricciardo was disqualified for Red Bull.

But the Dane was not expecting any repeat this time, with McLaren struggling in testing to get laps under their belt due to persistent troubles with the new V6 turbo hybrid power unit.

"I don't think we expected anything else. It's tough," Magnussen said. "It's very new. The main priority is to finish the race and try and learn from the race."

"It's a learning process right now, we've just got to be patient."

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