McLaren entered this week’s Formula 1 test in Barcelona having stubbed their toe in the first test two weeks ago so expectations were hopeful they would have a better program starting on Tuesday. Those hopes were somewhat dashed as another engine replacement was required on Stoffel Vandoorne’s car after an electrical problem presented itself.
“In the interests of maximising lap time, we sped to replace the power-unit and investigate the issue further once it is out of the car.
“The PU we are using is the same specification as the one run at the test last week.”, said a Honda spokesperson.
The relationship is challenged if not strained at this point but the team were quick to point out that the engine they are using for this week’s test is the same as they used in the first test. A new spec engine will be fitted for the first race in Australia in three weeks. McLaren race director, Eric Boullier, says the strain is at a maximum.
“Obviously we are in F1, we are racing, and we have to perform.
“So the pressure is obviously huge and obviously we put the maximum pressure on all of our relationship with Honda, and the same for them.
“We cannot put a footstep wrong.
“We need to be able to deliver the best car as well, so this is both sides.”
It’s not an easy issue to fix. The team have a long-term contract with Honda and even though the Japanese engine maker entered the hybrid power unit formula late in the game, many believe they should have advanced by now. That’s not to say that the newly designed engine for 2017 won’t come on song by Australia but what the team are missing now is chassis development proven by amassing mileage during these initial tests.
McLaren have no choice in the situation in the near term. They simply have to slog it out and work with Honda to cure their ills and find pace and reliability. Even if they wanted to use another engine, this chassis is designed for the Honda and I can’t honestly think of an engine maker who would want to enter F1 with the regulations and engine format set to change in 2020.
If they eventually do get their engine sorted, McLaren may then be able to compete at the sharp end of the grid but they may have to do that without the services of Fernando Alonso who’s patience could give out.
Hat Tip: Autosport