McLaren’s F1 chief Eric Boullier has played down the seriousness of the issues encountered by its engine partner Honda, saying they are not fundamental to the design of the power unit.
McLaren completed only 208 laps in the first pre-season test in Barcelona, after its running was severely compromised by two separate engine issues.
While Honda is yet to fully understand the reasons behind the technical gremlins, and has stated that a change in fuel tank would be needed before the season-opener in Melbourne, Boullier remains convinced that there is nothing to worry about at this stage of the year.
“New issues. It is fixable, but it was not the plan to have these issues,” Boullier told F1’s official website. “They are not really serious, as there are no fundamental issues with the design.“
“[We are] in a much better situation [compared to 2015 and ‘16]. But to be frank, it is not good enough for our expectations and the expectations of our fans - after three years.”
Asked why Honda is unable to get on top of the reliability issues in its third year in F1, Boullier reiterated that the Japanese manufacturer’s latest decision to re-enter the sport has left it with a mountain to climb.
“Because they are still three years behind in time to the others: Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari started in 2010 - and all these three started with an existing organization, as all three were already doing F1 engines,” he said.
“In 2013 Honda decided to come back to Formula One and started from scratch: empty buildings! They had to buy everything - and find the right people.
“So to be fair you have manufacturers who had seven years and are still struggling - and Honda started four years after the others. These units are so complicated that you have to be really process driven and go step by step. Unfortunately there is no short cut.”
by Rachit Thukral