I always enjoy reading Mark Hughes and after meeting him in Austin, there’s no wonder he joined MotorSport Magazine to be part of a professional and yet very cordial, polite and kind staff. Our conversation in Austin reminded me of my conversation with Nigel roebuck—both incredibly polite and incredibly knowledgeable. True professionals in every sense of the word.
That’s why Sky Sports F1’s article caught my attention. There seems to be a lot of talk about McLaren these days but more to the point, can the team actual make any headway in 2016? Rumors place their deficit at 2.5s and that’s a lot to find in a matter of several weeks.
The entire article is a good read so check it out but what caught me, regarding McLaren’s ability to develop and close the gap, was this comment by Hughes:
“32 tokens are allowed next year. A compressor change requires three and a combustion chamber change three, so there’s still scope to effectively completely re-design the engine. If you’ve badly messed up at this stage, you can still easily put it right.
“At the moment, you’re not being strangled by the regulations – they aren’t preventing you from putting the design right. They will do eventually, if you leave it long enough before putting it right, but that’s 2019.
“If you haven’t sorted it out by then, you don’t really deserve to be in F1.”
Sometimes we get hung up on the engine freeze and forget that the token-spend is available and has been extended for 2016 and 32 tokens does allow for some major re-engineering if need be. I’m not completely convinced that Honda needs a complete re-do of their design to be honest.
I tend to think Honda know how to make an engine and my hunch is they came to F1 with some very trick engineering designs that haven’t quite proven as effective yet. They need more development and time to hone in on the ultimate performance deliverance.
Mark, wisely, doesn’t go quite as far as I do in saying McLaren could very well right the ship and be on par with Williams F1 or Force India but I like to give them the benefit of the doubt. We’ll see but it makes for a good think over the winter.
Hat Tip: Sky Sports F1