Everyone, including Honda, stumped by McLaren failure

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/F1

Honda’s power unit failure during qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix may not come as a big surprise to those who have resigned themselves for yet another gut-wrenching, butt-pounding trip through the 2017 Formula 1 season but for the rest of us who are absolutely perplexed at Honda’s issues, it was a real head-scratcher…so much so that even Honda are scratching their heads and that’s not good!

“We are not sure the exact cause, but definitely a mechanical failure of the MGU-H,” said Hasegawa.

“It is something around the bearings, it was sticking.

“They are all dead so we have to replace.

“We’re not sure why it happened just here three times, but we are suspecting something happened in this environment.

“Possibly because the temperatures are very high.”

It’s a surreal situation and adds more of that magic Dust of Confusion to and otherwise clear team…or at least, a team who had a clear history. How is it possible for Honda to be in the series for this long and still have major reliability issues? Especially when the grid is achieving an aggregate reliability score of 84%?

If I’m optimistic, I’m suggesting to friends that Honda are trying something so comprehensively unique and cool that when it is eventually on song, it will be the dominant engine in F1. The other side of me is moaning to friends about culture clashes and car-by-committee nonsense.

If Fernando Alonso is going to Indy, can he just bring back one of their engines and bolt it on the back of the McLaren?

Hat Tip: Autosport

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Should get a KIA engine.

Marti J Powell BSc

Re:Should get a KIA engine
>Maybe BUT Honda HAVE provided
£100million reasons to use Honda


Another wasted year and Honda are still nowhere after 3 years. That does it. Patience is one thing but suicide is another.


Cosworth is the only answer. The most ironic thing is that Zak Brown is actually director in Cosworth so rather then do this Indy deal, he should be pushing this through.

Junipero Mariano

2 seasons of dismal performance and 3rd starting the same way. Honda already got rid of one development head over this, so is it the concept for the engine or just the Honda approach to engineering? The previous Honda F1 wasn’t so hot, and the press to the new NSX has been fair to middling, compared to its rivals in the hybrid supercar space.

the Late Idi Armin

Alonso “There is no point us talking about the driveability when we cannot complete a lap or do the qualifying. I really don’t care too much about driveability if I cannot finish a race so far this year.”

Zachary Noepe

Has anyone looked into Irish coffee sabotage?


Vandoorne is already using his third TC & MGU-H, if it is the same failure for Alonso then the part needs to be redesigned. Hopefully this is already underway as the first failure to affect Vandoorne was last weekend.

Salvu Borg

MGU-H bearings failure was reported on Alonso’s PU.


Yes, but Honda also reported this has written off the ICE, so presumably the TC is dead too. I can’t see another way for an MGU-H bearing failure to damage the ICE, unless it is like the old ‘electrical’ problems that sidelined some Italian cars in the 1970s – the plug lead was knocked off by the con rod when it came through the crankcase.
Worrying Times for Honda. Odd that they think both cars should be able to finish the race when they don’t know what caused the failure.

Salvu Borg

Yes the ICE can easily be damaged (crank bearing as well as other parts that are oil lubricated) because the “H” apart from being engine oil cooled, the bearings are engine oil lubricated, (the same circulating oil). As you said in the other thread/page, a lot of the power unit six components has had to be replaced inside this year’s two races plus 3rd race FP1/2 and 3, but while some might have failed, some were damaged as a consequence of electrical control failures (sensors), Kimi’s ICE, TC, H as well as ES and CE (LAST TWO IN Australia) were… Read more »


So, do you think some manufacturers have been too ambitious in increasing the power output when they should have been improving the reliability to cope with the heavier and higher drag cars this year?

Salvu Borg

No I do not think that any of the power unit manufacturers has been too ambitious in increasing their power units output. and I believe that reliability is better this year, that is when one looks carefully at the real causes of failed ICE components. technically speaking one cannot say a turbo is unreliable if the cause of its fail is a pressure sensor. (example). It is not only/not really the extra drag and weight of the car this year, it is actually the ability to use (China example) 15-20 percent more full throttle over a lap (China: something like… Read more »


Honda’s reliability is about the same as this point last year, Renault’s is certainly worse. By this point last year Mercedes had needed to change some parts on Hamilton’s car, this year it is Bottas’ car that as needed a new CE. A slight improvement. Ferrari have had problems affect all their teams this season rather than just the works team that had new parts fitted last year.
Last season it didn’t matter as much as Ferrari weren’t in the title hunt, this year it could be the deciding factor come the end of the year.

Salvu Borg

Agree, yes, it could be the deciding factor, and nothing to do with lack of power output, in fact I believe that both the chassis (car) handling and engine output of the FERRARI is better than that of the Mercedes. the chassis/car handling is all there for all to see, but engine wise it is not, if you would like to talk about it, even for the benefit of others, it will be an interesting Desiccation indeed.


I agree about the Ferrari chassis being better than the Mercedes, particularly in the way it uses the tyres. The one advantage Mercedes seems to still have is the ability to turn up the power in qualifying. If Ferrari can match this, then they should be able to start ahead of the field and control the race from the front. At the moment though we get to see the potentially faster car start behind and have to race for any victory rather than simply drive away. Do you have any idea what Mercedes are doing to give them the extra… Read more »

Salvu Borg

The extra power for qualifying/for one lap Mercedes still have more than FERRARI is only due to what is termed as the “free load system” of which FERRARI are constrained to holding back from using at full potential, because of reliability concern. This is a system that I can show/proof that FERRARI actually Pioneered (on the road) as far back as in late 2013, (ever seen/read about FERRARI strange sports model testing/running around in Foriano?) that is before these new PU’S hit the track, in short, the FERRARI PU was born with this optimal control scheme. Up to 2015 only… Read more »

Will Irwin

What Mercedes is doing for the extra power in Quali is the great mystery, specifically: if they can do it, why can their engine customers not do it? We don’t see Williams, Force India and the others showing a big qualifying advantage over the other mid-grid teams.

Salvu Borg

MIE, Just sayin, In my long working life I have been around and involved with a big diversity of engine makes, ordinary everyday use, specialized, small and big to very big made and manufactured around the globe, I believe that the most con-rods pocking out the side of the block I seen were on British made engines.

Steve Wyant

As clever, incredible and efficient as these power units are, I know I sure don’t ever want anything like this in my own personal car. “Sir, it looks like the bearings went out on your MGU-H. Looks like it will cost you about $7,000 and it will take about a month before we have it ready”. Road relevant indeed…

charlie white

I see McLaren stepping in the same path as Williams. Once strong and dominant in the past, now an upper mid-pack team that relied on its history and reputation but stepped over by better (financed) teams. Unless something dramatically happens with the Honda, I think that will be their position for the future.