According to McLaren race director Eric Boullier, the team would have won a race in 2016 if the Honda engine would have been competitive.

“If we had the best engine this year, we would have won races,” Boullier said.

“We know, the GPS traces [of corner speeds] tell us.”

You have to wonder if that is what Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes GPS would tell them too? It’s an interesting position and one that takes the focus off the chassis and squarely places it back on the power unit of Honda.

As we mentioned in our season review podcast, even when Honda did deliver the increase in power and performance in July, the car made improvements for sure but not the kind of gross gains many were hoping for. This led some to believe that the chassis wasn’t flattering the entire package either.

To Eric’s defense, it is a complete system and even if they had been given a Mercedes engine in July, it isn’t designed for the complete package.

“There is room for improvement everywhere with Honda,” he said.

“It also drives your chassis development. Everything is connected”.

Indeed it is and he would be better positioned to know if the Honda engine was still the anchor on their performance or not but I’m not sure some of the F1 pundits are as convinced that the chassis has no role to play in the lack of performance and that Honda should bear the brunt of the blame.

As I said, I’m not in a position to know but let’s look at Red Bull and Renault as an example. The team knew they had a power unit seriously lacking but when the upgrades came, Red Bull worked some magic with their chassis and beat Ferrari in the title chase. I would say they seemed to do a better job of making the immediate Renault engine gains into performance gains via superior chassis design but perhaps I’m not being fair here.

“It took Renault time [to make engine gains] and still today, they are not on top of the game.

“They started to develop this engine six years ago.”

There is certainly truth in the notion that Renault were at it far longer than Honda were but the Japanese company did have a full year, after announcing their return, to really focus on making the engine and during that year, they have a serious peek at McLaren’s supplier, Mercedes, for the entire season.


They had some luxury in that they could see what the teams were struggling with in the first season with the new power units and were not hampered by the token spend while under development.

I’m picking fly poop out of the pepper here but to me, McLaren’s Honda engine sounds the best on the grid and I still have a lot of faith in this brilliant team…and that’s coming from a Ferrari fan. I think they’ll eventually get there and Eric is right, teams can take 5-6 seasons to get it on song. Mercedes, Red Bull and Renault all took similar amounts of time to reach the top. Stable regulations were a large part of that but so were radical regulation changes in the case of Mercedes—it helps that they were a large part of forming those regulations though.


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Race team blames p.u supplier for poor performance! This one played out in a much more acrimonious way with RBR and Renault in 2015. Given how few ‘tokens’ it took for the Renault p.u to become competitive in 2016, I call b.s on that one. So what’s going on with McLaren? Is this a change in ‘style’ of dealing with Honda now that Ron is out of the picture? Are they angling to find a new p.u partner, in a less aggressive way than RBR? Is this a genuine evaluation of the chassis & p.u package that both parties agree… Read more »


Given that the Honda engine did deliver some power gains, the only things left are the chassis and the aero. This smells like a red herring (and I hate seafood).


Peter Windsor had released a couple season review videos where Craig Scarbough talks about each team’s technical progress throughout 2016. In the video about McLaren, he talked about the power gains that Honda were able to achieve. Those gains were exactly what they needed to put their power delivery above Renault and close to Ferrari. The only catch is that the power gains were at the expense of increased fuel consumption. The power was there, but the team had to dial it back to save fuel. The team also had to run with slightly less downforce to maintain their performance.… Read more »


I saw on the BBC F1 page that McLaren are letting Jost Capito go, as part of the post Ron purge. I thought getting Jost in as Chief Exec back in September was a really positive move for McLaren, he’s had a pretty stellar career, mostly in rallying, but the guy has the golden touch. Its all on Eric Boo-yeah now…….