The whole debate regarding Fernando Alonso's comments on McLaren team radio during the Japanese Grand Prix has kind of moved on, but it’s worth revisiting for the criticism the Spaniard received for speaking out. In a race where both McLarens had no response to the speed of other teams, Alonso labelled the car's performance as "embarrassing" and slated the Honda power unit as a "GP2 engine", as unacceptably underpowered. The Sky Sports F1 team in particular rounded on him after the race. Johnny Herbert called his comments "stupid" and said: "That mentality will destroy everything, Why not just get on with the driving?" When they interviewed McLaren Group CEO Ron Dennis, he said: "I think he vented his frustration. I don't think he needed to make the comments, it wasn't particularly constructive. We are here in Japan, Suzuka, Honda's home track, we had the president of the Honda motor company, we had the head of R&D, chief executive of Honda motors - the three most senior people who are totally committed to winning a world championship and their curve is much steeper than they anticipated, but their aspirations and commitment has not diminished." And Alonso tried to make peace later on Twitter , affirming that despite his remarks he would stay at McLaren for the rest of his contracted three years. But "GP2 engine" is out in public now, the damage is done, and in my opinion it's wrong to slam a driver for making an observation which has been completely obvious all season. At virtually every race we've cringed at the McLaren's visible lack of power compared to their Mercedes and Ferrari-powered rivals. We've watched two world champion drivers in a world champion team struggle to score even minor points. After 14 races, they've scored all of 17 points, with a best result of fifth place coming in Hungary courtesy of Alonso. No, the Honda power unit isn't quite GP2-standard (as Lawrence Edmondson states here, GP2’s Mecachrome V8 engines are down roughly 250bhp from F1’s best). But Honda’s Energy Recovery System has continually failed to harvest and deploy enough power, especially on the straights where it’s most needed to fend off chasing cars, estimates have been made that Honda are facing as much as a 160bhp deficit. Alonso was exaggerating a little, but then the man has always been wily in a car and in public. He was undoubtedly aware that senior Honda staff were at their home race, at the circuit they own, and so in a season where improvements have not been forthcoming, he would deliver the damning verdict, hoping the dishonor would galvanise the carmaker into more drastic efforts to turn things around. Such an approach is not unfounded given how McLaren and Honda have tried doubling down on the relationship in public, refusing to answer questions about replacing Honda’s F1 head Yasuhisa Arai, after rumours emerged that they had asked for him to go. In my opinion, it's pretty ironic for a broadcaster which has constantly talked about how much they want the drivers to be “box office”, outspoken personalities rather than robots tied to PR commitments, and frequently enjoy Kimi Raikkonen's brief spats on team radio, to suddenly slam a driver for being just that, no matter how blunt. Was Alonso being unhelpful? Maybe, but then it’s probably just as helpful as anything Honda have done to improve the engine so far this season. Again, the team’s troubles have very much been an open secret, and Arai himself has opened them to mockery after claiming planned upgrades would give Honda 25% more power than the Renault power units run by Red Bull and Toro Rosso, while the actuality was anything but. Renault-powered Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen both went cleanly past him on the pit straight at Suzuka. I do hope McLaren and Honda continue and get better, sooner rather than later. The two of course have a great history of partnership from the late 80s and early 90s which doesn’t deserve this lowly footnote (for now), and the same is true for the drivers in the cars. But the only thing you need to know from this whole talking point is this: if Alonso hadn’t pointed out how embarrassingly underpowered Honda’s engines were on their own circuit, in front of the company’s top people, be assured that everyone else in the press would have done it for him. The story is unavoidable. What do you think of this whole spat? Was Alonso right to speak out or not?