McLaren’s new Honda engine is no Ferrari

You want it to be a big leap forward. You were hoping that Honda’s upgraded engine deployed this weekend at the Belgian Grand Prix was going to be a big improvement. You were realistic, though, and you weren’t expecting McLaren to leap to the podium.

McLaren Honda’s upgraded engine may not have been running full song or it may have been dialed back to test its on-event reliability but the bad news is that it may have been running flat out. It’s difficult to know but suffice it to say, this is not the overall result many were hoping for from McLaren Honda’s new upgrades. Driver Jenson Button said:

“That’s puzzling and disappointing, and shows there is a lot of work needed to close that gap, and a long way to go before we feel happy with the package we have.

“There’s definitely more power with the engine at least, but you always want more than you see, and we’re still a long way off.”

For teammate Fernando Alonso, he’s just hoping for attrition:

“I need many things to happen tomorrow,” said Alonso when asked if was considering a points finish.

“I talk before about rain, but probably we need more than the rain. We need a very chaotic race, let’s say.

“But I think the target tomorrow cannot be the points to be honest. We have to be realistic, we are not competitive at all.

“The target tomorrow is to learn about the car and keep putting mileage.”

The season is a complete bust for McLaren and fans know this but what they are more concerned about is the rate of development and so far—a few points-finishes withstanding—they are not making big strides throughout this season. That’s the real issue.

The 2015 season is effectively a very expensive test session for the team and while accepting that is difficult enough, not seeing major strides is even worse. Especially when Honda implied the new upgraded engine would provide Ferrari-like performance.

There is another side of that coin, however, in that McLaren actually have made some significant gains given their time delta to the winner of each race since the season opening Australian Grand Prix.

Finding seconds in Formula 1 is not easy but it is even more difficult, when you get there or thereabouts, to find tenths, hundredths and thousandths.


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Paul KieferJr

I’m going to hope that katanas are not being provided at Honda. That was embarrassing, and I suspect that the execs there are feeling a bit dishonored (they should feel that way, but katanas will not be the answer).


At one point in the qualifying session, I saw Alonso cross the line behind one of the Mercs and the gap seemed like 5 seconds…. That’s almost like racing in a different formula! Jensen said they shaved some down force off his car and it was even slower. They need that straight line quickness (there is a difference between fast and quick…and the McLaren has neither!).

Negative Camber

The length of this circuit will also play into the lap deltas the Macca’s are showing as well.

peter riva

The whole year is a practice session – the actual cause of the FIA not allowing testing of the cars. What a giant waste of time for McLaren and two great gentlemen of the sport.


Alonso summed it up exactly. ‘We are not competitive at all’
It is a shame for F1 that we are not seeing the talent of Alonso racing. The worrying thing is they seem to be losing more ground to the leading teams, not getting closer.

peter riva

You know, it just occurred to me – given the excellent of Honda worldwide, the fact that they cannot make the engine to match Mercedes (and you know McLaren had 2 years+ to leak that information and technical specs to them) – well, F1 engines must be seriously more complex than we assume.


I have been a McLaren fan for 27 years, the same 27 years that I have been watching F1. I really, really thought that there could never be a worse year than 2007 for the team, but boy, was I wrong. Leaving all emotion aside though, just from a simple “pure business” perspective, i think it is now time for McLaren and Honda to admit that this was a bad, bad mistake (i.e. joining forces). I say this because I am 100% convinced that they don’t have the resources to fix the problem. Let me elaborate. I am not talking… Read more »

Michael in Seattle

Hard to argue with anything you wrote. Your ‘PS’ was especially on pointe, btw! We may never have heard about it, but I’m willing to bet that MBZ had (has?) their power units out in the real world (even now).

Meine Postma

I completely agree!